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  CSPAN    Public Affairs    News  News/Business.  

    February 13, 2013
    10:00 - 1:00pm EST  

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loopholes and try to come to something. neither side will agree to either one of the proposals that it laid out at this point, but will cause a debate. that bill will come up. senator reid said likely to get a boat at the end of the month. host: ginger gibson with politico, thank you. is that it will be in recess next week for presidents day, as will the house. the house about to come into session. that does it for today's " washington journal." [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the
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u.s. house of representatives.] the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the chair lays before the house a communication from the speaker. the clerk: the speaker's room, washington, d.c., february 13, 2013. i hereby appoint the honorable doug collins to act as speaker pro tempore on this day. signed, john a. boehner, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the order of the house of january 3, 2013, the chair will now recognize members from lists submitted by the majority and minority leaders for morning hour debate . the chair will alternate recognition between the parties with each party limited to one hour and each member other than the majority and minority leaders and the minority whip limited to five minutes each, but in no event shall debate continue beyond 11:50 a.m. the chair recognizes the gentleman from maryland, mr. hoyer, for five minutes.
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mr. hoyer: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, the president spoke to us last night and he talked to us about avoiding the sequester. i was at a political event being interviewed, and mr. -- the gentleman, mr. pompeo from kansas, was with us as well and he spoke before i did. he talked about the sequester and he said, quote, it's going to be a home run. we're doing what the american people asks the united states house of representatives to do in 2010 when i came here. he then said america will have tremendous respect for what its house of representatives led and what its federal government was able to accomplish, referring to the sequester. a profound disagreement.
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i think the gentleman from kansas is profoundly wrong. the sequester will have an extraordinarily negative affect on this country, on its people, on its economy and on its national security. and i, i might say, on the confidence that the world at large has in the united states' ability to pursue rational policy. in his state of the union address last night, mr. speaker, with regard to the deficit, the president said this, none of us will get 100% what we want, but the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy and visit hardship on millions of hardworking americans. he went on to say the greatest nation on earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.
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every 30 days, every 60 days, every 90 days, a manufactured crisis, evidence of a dysfunctional and willful congress. he went on to say, let's agree right here, right now to keep the people's government open, pay our bills on time and always uphold the full faith and credit of the united states of america. that seems to be reasonable policy. we now have 2 1/2 weeks before the sequester takes effect with devastating consequences for our economy and our country, yet, the gentleman from kansas welcomes that policy. in fact, the republican leadership of this house has not put a single bill on the floor in this congress that would have any impact on avoiding the sequester. we now find ourselves facing yet another manufactured crisis. instead of preventing it, as
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i've said, republicans appear willing and enthusiastically welcoming the sequester. mr. speaker, every american ought to take note of that enthusiasm for an irrational policy referred to as rational by its own leader, mr. cantor, who said it's not the way we ought to do business. he's right, but he's not brought anything to the floor to avoid it. the sequester was supposed to be an undesirable outcome that would force us to agree on an approach. indiscriminant cuts to the defense budget it should contain something, some provision that everyone can love although everyone will mott love every provision.
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here, congress took the opposite approach and included something everyone could despies. the faction of the majority which is not a majority by the house itself has become so sdemrellous in its drive to pursue a spending only approach that has embraced the sequester's draconian cuts. mr. pompeo's quote this morning confirms that assertion. they've used their clout within the majority to hold congress hostage from one manufactured crisis to the next and they nearly brought us to the edge of default for a second time last year. there have been several reports in a number of news outlets that the top line for appropriations would not exceed the level it would be after sequestration cuts. already adopting the premise that sequestration has gone into effect. it was further reported that while the sequester levels would be kept the cuts would be rearranged in order to protect
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defense spending. like n.i.h., cancer research, heart research, prostrate cancer research, diabetes research, all the other maladies that one is shaking his head, afflict us in this country and around the world. by injecting additional partisanship in this way, republicans would be taking a further step away from compromise. we need compromise. each of us in this body understands we represent a certain segment of a society, but not everybody agrees with everything we believe. therefore, if we are to act on behalf of the country in a responsible and effective fashion, it's necessary to compromise. mr. speaker, the sequester is real and is rapidly approaching. it is not a rational approach to deficit reduction. even republican leader cantor, as i said, admitted on "meet the press" sunday about the
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sequester, and i quote the republican leader, i don't want to live with a sequester. let me repeat that. i do not want to live with a sequester. i want reductions in spending that makes sense. these indiscriminant reductions don't make sense. that's what mr. pompeo was welcoming. indiscriminant cuts that do not make sense. we need serious action in congress to deal with the sequester, and that action cannot wait. but there's been nothing on the floor in this congress to deal with that sequester. nothing. not a single piece of legislation has been brought forth by the majority. i used to be the majority leader, mr. speaker, and i had the power to bring legislation forward and i would do it. i am no longer the majority leader. and the majority leader, notwithstanding the fact this quote that these indiscriminant reductions don't make sense, has not brought an alternative to this floor.
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democrats are ready to make tough choices and we're ready to work with republicans to do what is necessary to solve this problem of our deficit in a balanced way. we must reduce spending but we also need to raise revenues. every bipartisan commission, everyone has said the only way you are going to solve the arithmetic is to do so. mr. speaker, i want to yield back the balance of my time so that my chetion have an opportunity to say their peace. but i lament the fact that we're going home next week. we ought to be here working to avoid what the speaker says is an irrational -- excuse me -- the majority leader, an indiscriminant cuts that are not the way to do business. yet, we rush headlong to do that. i hope the senate acts. i hope the senate passes a bill that will be rational, will get us out of this can nun drum of a squest -- conundrum of a sequester that nobody wants,
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and when it does, majority leader cantor and speaker boehner will bring it to the floor and let us vote. and if you don't like it, vote against it, but let the american people know where we stand. let us avoid the sequester. let us get ourselves on a fiscally balanced path, but let us do so responsibly, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. thompson, for five minutes. mr. thompson: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i rise today as co-chair of the bipartisan house career and technical education caucus in order to recognize february as national career and technical education month. career and technical education programs continue to evolve in order to ensure that workers are prepared to hold jobs in high wage and high skill field
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like information technology, health care and manufacturing in the 21st century. for this time of record high unemployment, career and technical education provide the lifeline to the unemployed who look to be alongside young adults just out of high school in the rapidly evolving job market. career in technical education, while historically undervalued, provides an opportunity for america to remain globally competitive. while also engaging students in practical, real-world applications of academics coupled with hands on work experience. now, as we move towards fiscal year 2014, i join with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, and not only recognizing the importance of maintaining these federal investments for our country's future but also saying thank you to the countless men and women who make these programs possible. the faculty, the teachers, the
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instructors within the career -- our career and technical education schools throughout this great mation. mr. speaker, as we celebrate career and technical education month, i encourage my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join me and my good friend, representative langevin from rhode island, the co-chair of the career -- the house career and technical education caucus, as we continue our work together with the bipartisan career and technical education caucus to provide promising futures for individuals that are seeking opportunities for work within this great nation, for employers who are in situations despite record unemployment, the longest since the great depression, have great jobs, great-paying jobs that are sitting open and available where they can't find a qualified work force and for
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america who will depend on how well we make these investments. thank you, mr. speaker, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from texas, ms. jackson lee, for five minutes. ms. jackson lee: i thank the speaker very much, and we had an historic occasion last evening, but i rise to comment on a number of issues, and i first want to acknowledge and pay tribute to a texan that was buried yesterday in a tragic incident, chris kyle, a navy seal, who had served this country, loved this country and came back to his family and children and took a cause to help serve troubled veterans. and as he was doing so, along with his friend, chad, one of
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those troubled veterans shot both he and his friend. what a tragedy, and i think it is important to note the thousands who mourned him and the per session that took him to his burial ground yesterday and to say thank you for serving this nation but coming home to care about those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. that leads me to bring up this whole question of sequester. in my own city of houston, i was able to some four years ago establish the first posttraumatic stress disorder center in a hospital that was not a veterans hospital. the riverside general hospital, for a period of years, continued serving our posttraumatic stress disorder veterans in a small attentive
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setting where they could sit with others who were troubled as well. i have become a champion of the need and the purpose of posttraumatic stress disorder medical services and beg and cry to the veterans department and to the pentagon which this grant came from. we cannot abandon our soldiers who have served us well, and i would hope that the grant for this hospital will be continued because texas has been known to have the largest number of returning iraq and afghanistan troops. . that speaks loudly to the question of sequester, and i'm delighted to the president last evening could not have offered more olive branches on economic reform, tax reform, the idea that we can do this budget together. not a sequester, not a self-inflicted wound. it's what we did to ourselves. but more importantly to talk about innovation and growth.
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something that i have spoken about over and over again as a member formerly of the science committee and now homeland security. where is america's genius? right outside the beltway. why are we dividing ourselves along democrats and republicans refusing to put revenue alongside of cuts? mr. speaker, we are at the bone almost. and sequester that is across-the-board cuts will literally destroy us and put us in a recession. all the talking heads that are suggesting that the president was not bipartisan and how there was nothing that he they heard. well, mr. speaker, may i ask them to take cotton out of their ears? because in actuality the president extended his hand of friendship. we want to get down to work. we can pass comprehensive immigration he reform. we can pass in tribute on recognition of sandy hook and had a dea and aurora and our congresswoman, former colleague,
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congresswoman giffords and virginia tech and many places and lone star college in my district. and the tragedy at the university of maryland that just occurred just in the last 24 hours. people are mourning. we have to stop gun violence. i don't want to hear the fact that the president is divisive. the president is leading and he has led well. the american people are listening. one of our friends on the other -- when are our friends on the other side of the aisle going to listen? and when are the american people going to rise up among the maze of television commentary and see your voices can be heard if you raise up, literally, in the houses of worships and civic clubs and say that congress must do its job. for our soldiers that are coming home and for those children who are the future, and for the opportunity for growth. you bring down the debt by growing the economy. and innovating, congratulations, mr. president, for the research and manufacturing centers, 15. let's do more of them. i hope that we can get summer
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youth jobs, a program of private and public cooperation. when does a youth take up a gun,? they take it up when they don't have a summer job. when they don't have an opportunity. so i want to challenge this body to be the kind of -- yesterday was the official birthday of president lincoln, february 12, and although it was a tragic time in our history, i can assure you that it shows the greatest promise of america when people could come together and to something great. i stand here as a free slave because this congress came together. are we going to be able to do it today to free america? i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. quigley, for five minutes. mr. quigley: thank you, mr. speaker. last month we passed a bill that suspended the debt ceiling until
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may. i voted for that bill because i didn't want to expunge the credit rating of this country or have the economy plunge into a recession. that vote was a short-term fix in what has been a series of short-term fixes. short-term fixes no longer cut it when it comes to running the world's biggest economy. instead of thoughtful, long-term planning, we have contented ourselves with political sideshows. we have budgeted with continuing resolutions and held endlets party zahn committee hearings and dismantling so-called job killing legislation like the clean air act. we voted 33 times to repeal all or part of the president's health care plan. we attempted to balance the federal government's budget by zeroing out planned parenthood. that's not careful planning, that's tired political dogma. in the famous speech about the vietnam war, dr. martin luther king jr. said, we are confronted by the fierce urgency of now. we again find ourselves at a conflict that threatens the
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political fabric of our nation. the integrity of our institution. he we face a mountain of debt. we lack a comprehensive approach to climate change, energy, transportation, medicare, social security, defense spending, immigration reform, gun violence, and even our postal system. we need to find that urgency to start to create a sensible energy policy that confronts climate change and reduces our reliance on foreign oil. we need that urgency to formulate a transportation plan so that states can address their crumbling infrastructure. and local businesses can get back to work. we need that urgency of now to reconfigure our security policy. make sensible cuts and fashion a force that prepares us for conflicts of the future and not the past. we need the urgency of now to make sensible changes to social security and medicare to ensure the vitality of these programs for generations to come.
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batered -- it will reward us with a more sensible energy policy, good roads, and a sustainable social welfare system. we will be rewarded with the stable economy and reduced market volatility. we cannot wait to act. we are borrowing 42 cents for every dollar we spend. we have to take sensible steps to begin reducing our debt without stepping on a fragile economic recovery. rehave to take steps that are big, bold, and bipartisan. that's why i signed on to the cooper-latourette bipartisan budget agreement that would have saved $4 thrill over -- $4 trillion over 10 years and that's why my office offered a plan to reinvent government and save taxpayers $2 trillion over the next 10 years. no, government is not perfect, but i believe we need to reinvent government not eliminate it. or as grover norquist says, make it small enough to drown in a
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bathtub. government is important. the heroes of 9/11 were government workers. government teaches our kids. it protects us. keeps us safe. helps keep our air clean. and protects the less fortunate. the tea party has this wrong. the objectives should not be to destroy government through reactive draconian cuts. rather we should collectively rethink and renew this institution that touches all of our lives. i recognize not everyone i serve with would agree on how to cut defense to make them sustainable over time. that's the whole point. we have to compromise. sadly that's not in vogue these days. my colleague from chicago, congressman bobby rush, said it best when he observed, in congress the view of compromise is that the other guy gives in. it simply can't be that way. until we end the big erk, and bricksmanship, the deadlock that's paralyzed our political
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process will continue. it is not we can imagine better but can we do better? those words are true today. we have to abandon the doing mas -- dogmas of yesterday to fulfill the promise of tomorrow. we cannot escape history, he said. we of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. despite this immense challenge that confronts us, i believe we will prevail. if we can summon that urgency of now, if he we can end the bitter partisanship and poor planning, we can solve our nation's problems and make a brighter day for ourselves and generations to come. thank you. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. miller, for five minutes. mr. miller: mr. speaker, i read with interest the majority leader cantor's speech last week
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on the majority's latest relaunch of the house g.o.p.'s attempt to identify what -- with the middle class. he he said that the house will pursue an agenda of health, happiness, and prosperity for more americans and their families. he went on to identify very important problems for millions of americans. how to balance work and family. unfortunately, that was the end of the relaunch because to address this problem the majority leader proposed an old scheme that actually takes away workers' rights to overtime pay in exchange for employer controlled comp time. this scheme has been bouncing around big business wish list for decades. it's a two for big business. workers get less predictable schedules and they earn less pay. the prescription for what ails working families is to minister more poison. give working families less control over their life and less money in their pocket. this plan does not give workers flexibility. this plan is about giving
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corporations another way to pay workers less. that's how you help working families. i don't think so. if the republican majority party wants to seriously talk about healthy, prosperous, and happy american families, then they should help to create real opportunities to help families to be healthy, prosperous, and happy. here's one serious way to help working families. give workers real flexibility on the job and the ability to take advantage of paid time off. last week was the 20th anniversary of the family medical leave act. back in 1993 this law was a big step forward for america. it guarantees workers job protection leave when they needed time off for family for health reasons, for newborn child, to take care of a sick child, or spouse. this has been used more than 100 million times over the last 20 years. workers got to take off time to care for a newborn or sick spouse or get an operation without fear of losing their
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job. with family medical leave act, our country made it a priority to give workers the ability to balance the demands of work and family. it made healthy development of babies, healthy families, and healthy workplaces a priority. it was a remarkable accomplishment at the time. but it was intended to be a first step, not the last. today only half of all workers can take advantage of the family medical leave act. the rest are ineligibility because of their part-time status or who their employer is. half of all workers don't have job protections to take time off to welcome a new baby to the family. they can't take time off to help an elderly parent without fear of losing their job. so here's another serious idea to help working families. extend the family medical leave protection to all workers and furthermore let's guarantee paid leave under the law. the federal family medical leave act only guarantees unpaid job protected leave. too many families simply cannot afford to miss a day or two of work. that's why congress should finally deliver on the paid
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leave that our nation's workers deserve. i recently heard from marty jones from san antonio, texas. while she said family medical leave was a godsend when her children were born, taking unpaid time off to care for her newborns to heal from a complicated delivery was a significant financial struggle. unfortunately she was not alone. a working woman or any worker for that matter shouldn't have to choose between family members they love or the paycheck they need. california, the district of columbia, connecticut, washington state, and new jersey have taken steps for paid family medical leave and sick leave. the policy is good for families and good for business. the least paid workers in our society are also least likely to be able to afford a day off when they are sick. many of those workers are behind the lunch counter taking care of our older family members. if this house truly is serious about helping working families, let's deliver on the full promise of workplace leave
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policies that properly value our nation's families. extended family medical leave benefits to all workers and look for ways to guarantee workers' access to paid family medical leave and sick leave. and there are other steps congress should take to ensure that workers can share the prosperity that they are helping to create. let's make sure that women are paid based upon their worth by passing the paycheck fairness act. let's raise the minimum wage that will boost the economy by putting money in the pockets of millions of working people. so i would say as my friend from virginia, the majority leader, if he is serious about helping working families, then join with us and let's enact policies that put these families first in both the workplace and in their homes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the chair recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr. connolly, for five minutes. mr. connolly: mr. speaker, the postmaster general's announcement this past week that he intends to eliminate saturday
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mail delivery is of great concern to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. n beyond the fact that such a move completely disregards congressional intent, it also sets the postal service on a downward spiral that will undercut any opportunity to revitalize it and put it in a more sound financial footing for future generations. whether it's the financial documents for small business, a prescription refill for an elderly resident, or birthday card for a loved one, saturday mail delivery is important to every person in every community in america. the united states postal service is an american institution. dating back to the founding of our nation when it was enshrined in article 1 of the constitution. and saturday delivery has been part of that tradition for the past 150 years. the men and women who don the blue uniform of the usps are visible in every street in every community. at a recent "washington post" story recounted, mail carriers
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have been known to report crimes, detect gas leaks, and check on the elderly. many serve the same routes for years, taking note of the comings and goes in their -- goings in their neighborhoods and offering a set of watchful eyes. they are the first responders in many of these communities. eliminating saturday mail service would result in the layoff of more than 50,000 letter carriers. . this only exacerbates this problem. suppose savings would clearly be offset if these unemployed middle-class workers then need federal assistance to make ends meet. upon closer inspection, the economic case for eliminating saturday delivery is specious at best. the postmaster general claims it will save $2 billion but it does not include the lost revenue or the broader economic ripple effect. a report commissioned by the
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postmaster general just last year showed that a 7.7% decline in mall volume, such as going from six to five days would trigger, would actually result in a $5.2 billion loss in revenue. little wonder that he deep sticked his own study. within the broader economy, 8.4 million jobs are supported by the public and private mailing industries. that represents 6% of all american jobs. for every job in the postal service, there are 10 in the private sector. and three out of four of those jobs are dependent on existing delivery infrastructure by the postal service, including six-day mail. last year the combined industries supported $1.3 trillion in sales revenue or 8.6% of our entire economy. while first class mail volume has been trending downward for
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the last decade, the postmaster is not showing growth. such as package delivery. growth in online retail sales spurred by cybermonday, for example, pushed usps package delivery revenue up by 4.7% or $154 million in the first quarter of this year alone. the postal service has not been able to capitalize on those opportunities, largely because congress itself stifled innovation with the 2006 legislation that passed. unlike its international counterparts, the postal service is prohibited by law from could he locating with such -- co-locating with such businesses like banks and coffee shops which offer a lot of revenue in the international service. and of course the most egregious burden imposed on the postal service by congress is the outrageous prefunding requirement for future retiree
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health benefits. under current law it must prefund 75 years at 100% of those benefits in a 10-year window. no other entity on the planet has such an onerous requirement but the postal service, and we did it, congress did it in 2006. in fact, 11.1 billion dollars of the $15 billion-plus loss to the postal service is directly attributable to that burden. that brings us to the audacity of last week's announcement by the postmaster general. it requests the authority to go from six to five. but congressional intent of the preservation of six-day mail delivery has been clear for 30 years. even the presidential budget request recognizes the need for congress proactively to grant such authority. it cannot be grabbed unilaterally. the postmaster general said he was on shaky ground and indeed
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he is in making this announcement. i urge my colleagues to take a closer look. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. poe, for five minutes. mr. poe: mr. speaker, domestic use of drones is on the way. there will be more eyes in the sky looking over america. according to the f.a.a., by 015 it will allow use -- 2015 it will allow use of drones nationwide and by 2030, 30,000 drones will be cruising american skies looking, observing, filming and hovering over america. they will come whether we like it or not. we will not know where they are or what they're looking at or what the purpose of their -- their purpose is, whether it's permitted or not permitted, whether it's lawful or unlawful and we really won't know who is flying those drones. sometimes drones are good. we can thank drones for tracking terrorists overseas and helping us catch outlaws on
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the borders. legitimate uses by government and private citizens do occur. but a nosy neighbor or big brother government does not have a right to look into a window without legitimate cause or in the case of government probable cause. mr. speaker, drones are easy to find. i learned from a simple google search that you can buy a drone on ebay or at your local radio shack. it's very easy. and aztec nothing changes, congress has the responsibility to be proactive and protect the fourth amendment right of all citizens. the fourth amendment states, the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated. it doesn't take a constitutional law professor to see why legislation is needed to protect the rights of the american people. the right of a reasonable expectation of privacy is a
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constitutional right. any form of snooping or spying, surveillance or eavesdropping goes against the rights that are outlined in the constitution. today i'll reintroduce the preserving america privacy act, because it's time for congress to be proactive in protecting the rights of civilians from the private use and government use of drones. this legislation balances individual constitutional rights with legitimate government activity and private use of drones. we don't have time to wait until 2030 when there are 30,000 drones in the sky. this bill sets clear guidelines and protects individual privacy and informs peace officers so they will know what they can do and what they cannot do under the law. nobody should be able to use drones for whatever purpose they want. this bill will make it clear for what purpose law enforcement and citizens and businesses can use drones. there will be limits on
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government use of drones so that surveillance of individuals on their property is only permitted or conducted when there's a warrant. this applies to state, federal and local jurisdictions. but there are exceptions. law enforcement could use a drone for fire and rescue, to monitor droughts and to assess flood damage or to chase a fleeing criminal. and of course the exceptions, called exigent circumstances, that are already in our law, will apply. this bill also includes a clear statement so it does not prevent the use of drones for border security. the bill also sets guidelines for the private use of drones. the bottom line of the bill is simple. nobody should be spying on another unless they have the legal authority to do so. the decision should not be left up to unelected bureaucrats to decide the use of drones. so congress has the obligation to set guidelines, to secure the right of privacy and protect citizens from unlawful drone searches.
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just because the government has the technology looking -- to look in somebody's yard doesn't give it the constitutional right to do so, and that's just the way it is. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. bera, for five minutes. mr. berra: these cuts immediately threaten the future of our children and grandchildren. if we allow sequestration to take place, we threaten to kick out 70,000 of our children off of the head start program. if we allow sequestration to take place, 10,000 american teachers will lose their jobs. we threaten the very future of
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our children and grandchildren. this is irresponsible. in the spirit of their future, the children from mrs. gibson's third grade class in elk grove, california, wanted me to deliver a message to congress. the five simple tips. they want congress to be responsible. they want congress to be respectful. they want congress to be kind. they want congress to be accountable. mr. speaker, the third graders from mrs. gibson's class want congress to make good choices. allowing sequestration to take place is a bad choice. if the third graders can figure it out, i certainly hope we in congress can as well. let's do what they advise.
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let's be responsible and let's make good choices. i yield back the remainder of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from puerto rico, mr. pierluisi, for five minutes. mr. pierluisi: mr. speaker, today i'm introducing a modified version of bipartisan legislation i introduced last congress. the bill would amend the provision in federal law that applies only to puerto rico and that has harmed thousands of medicare beneficiaries on the island. my legislation would eliminate this problem for future beneficiaries and provide appropriate financial relief to current beneficiaries who have been adversely affected. senator schumer is introducing a companion bill, and i want to thank him for his support on this issue. most individuals become eligible to enroll in medicare
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part a, which covers in-patient hospital care when they turn 65. in every state and territory except puerto rico individuals enrolled in part a are automatically enrolled in part b, which covers doctor services and outpatient hospital care and requires the payment of a monthly premium. individuals can opt out of part b if they don't want it. in puerto rico by contrast. individuals enrolled in part a are not automatically enrolled in part b but rather must opt in to receive this coverage. the problem with the opt in requirement is that the law requires individuals to elect part b coverage within a seven-month initial enrollment period or to pay a penalty to the federal government. the penalty is substantial, a 10% increase in the monthly part b premium for every year of delayed enrollment.
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it is also permanent, lasting as long as the individual has part b, which can be decades. the combination of the opt in requirement and inadequate beneficiary education in puerto rico has led to consequences that are both severe and predictable. puerto rico has the lowest part b participation rate in the country, 81% compared to the national average of 92%. there are at least 130,000 island residents enrolled in part a but not part b. without this coverage, beneficiaries have limited access to doctor services and outpatient hospital care. if these individuals eventually enroll in part b, as most will, the seven-month window will have closed and they will be required to pay a lifetime penalty. moreover, there are at least 53,000 seniors or disabled individuals in puerto rico who are already paying lifetime
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penalty for enrolling late in part b. each year in fact island residents pay a total of over $7 million in late fees. this is profoundly unfair. through no fault of their own, my constituents are required to forfeit money to the federal government they should be using to meet their basic needs and support their families. on the administrative front, i have worked hard with senator schumer to ensure that the relevant federal agencies improve the educational materials provided to puerto rico beneficiaries and i am pleased they have taken positive steps in response to our demands. but the only true solution to this problem is legislative. my bill will do three things. first, it would amend federal law so that going forward beneficiaries in puerto rico are treated like their counterparts in every other jurisdiction, automatically enrolled in part b with the option to opt out of coverage. second, to ease the burden on
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those who enrolled late in part b, usually with no understanding of the consequences of that choice, the bill would reduce the monthly penalty they are required to pay by 85%. finally, to address those beneficiaries who are enrolled in part a but not b and who will pay a late penalty whenever they do enroll, the bill would authorize a special period during which those individuals could enroll in part b and pay a monthly surcharge that is 85% less than the penalty they would be subject to under current law. i look forward to working with my colleagues in both the house and the senate to enact this much-needed bill into law. but i should also mention that i was impressed with the state of the union delivered by president obama last evening, and i particularly support his call for democracy in america,
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but i remind respectfully both the president and all americans that puerto rico has a status that is undemocratic, that there are 3.7 million american citizens living in puerto rico who lack the most basic voting rights in a democracy. they cannot vote for the president, and they do not have voting representation in congress. they have rejected this status, and the least this congress should do is give puerto rico the choice of joining the union as a state or be treated as a sovereign nation. thank you. i yield back the balance of my time. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the chair recognizing the gentlewoman from oregon, ms. bonamici, for five minutes. miss -- ms. bonamici: thank you very much, mr. speaker. today is february 1 but it feels like groundhog day. here we are back again facing the prospect of devastating cuts
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from sequestration. families in oregon don't understand why members of congress can't seem to satisfy their differences and get things done. and frankly, neither do i. we don't want to see these devastating cuts go into effect. we don't want to see a government shut down. we don't want to tell the children that they have to have even more students in their already crowded classrooms. or explain to senior citizens that the meals on wheels they rely on might not be delivered. we don't want to see cuts to food safety or air traffic control. or maritime and border security. we are in the home stretch racing towards yet another deadline, but instead of sitting at the bargaining table, we are headed out for recess. but in oregon alone, sequestration would kick more than 900 kids out of head start programs that make a difference in their school readiness. it would trigger a % cut in federal funding to -- 9% cut in federal funding to oregon's
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public university system. slashing student aid. law enforcement agencies throughout the country would lose the equivalent of 1,000 federal agents, 1,300 prison officers, and more than 5,000 border patrol personnel. small businesses across the nation would lose more than $540 million in loan guarantees. despite this talk of uncertainty, our economy really is poised to take off. but it can't do that if congress decides to take off from work. it's sad but true, the biggest obstacle to economic growth tomorrow is congressional foot-dragging today. we have been governing by crisis for too long. it's time to rally around common sense. it's time to take a seat at the bargaining table and most of all it's time to get back to work. no sequestration deal, no recess. thank you very much, mr. speaker. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back. the chair recognizes the
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gentleman from rhode island, mr. langevin, for five minutes. without objection. mr. langevin: mr. speaker, i rise in recognition today of career and technical education month and i'm proud to be joined by mr. thompson of pennsylvania who i know spoke earlier this morning. mr. thompson is my good friend and fellow co-chair of the bipartisan congressional career and technical education caucus. the c.t.e. is an investment in the future of our economy, our work force, and country. from skills training in high schools to community college and professional programs, c.t.e. plays a critical role for every age. i'm so proud that president obama called for more support for c.t.e. in his state of the union message last evening. now, the most important step i think we can take this year to support c.t.e. is to fully re-authorize the perkins vocational and technical
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education act. currently the perkins act is authorized at a level set in 2010. which doesn't reflect the reality of a modern economy where more workers are looking at high-skilled fields. more and more employers need highly skilled workers. job openings from employers they can't fill because they can't find the workers with the right skills to fill the jobs they do have. meanwhile, our unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. closing the skills gap is one important step that we can take to ensure that workers can fit and fill the needs of expanding industry. today and in the future. after all how can we expect or help businesses to start a company or expand their company or relocate jobs from overseas if we don't have the workers with the right skills to do the jobs that would and are available. so, mr. speaker, i look forward to a continued partnership with my good friend, mr. thompson
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from pennsylvania in the 113th congress and i certainly urge my colleagues to join the career and technical education caucus and to support the full re-authorization of the perkins act. thank you, mr. speaker. with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the chair declares the house in recess until 12:00 noon today. noon eastern right here on c-span. right now, though, we'll go live to a senate homeland security committee hearing, looking at problems with the
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u.s. postal service. this hearing began at 10:00 eastern this morning. >> spent his entire career at the postal service beginning as a clerk at the age of 12. not 12 but a young clerk at his hometown of pittsburgh. spent many years in top leadership positions before being postmaster general in 2010. good man. glad you could be with us today. our second witness on this panel is gene. he served as the comptroller general of the united states and head of the u.s. government accountability office since 2010. he was the acting comptroller, theans when i first met him, when he came onboard and he is one of the -- one of my -- one of the witnesses i'm most enjoyed welcoming. this really puts pressure on him because he never uses prepared testimony. like right off the top of his head. we have hundreds of people that come to testify and they have it right there in front of
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them, have people whispering in his ear. this man sits there and delivers. you heard the term stand and delivers. he sits and delivers. my guess is he'll probably do it again today. with that having been said with that big buildup, gene, good luck. we are happy you're here and we look forward to your tms and help develop consensus and get that ball in the end zone. thank you very much. general donahue. >> good morning, mr. chairman. thank you very much. done coburn, members of the committee, thank you, mr. chairman, for calling this hearing today to discuss the dire financial condition of our nation's postal service and for the opportunity to provide details of the postal service's proposals to return to long-term financial stability. i'm glad to be here to discuss these important issues, which are now more urgent than ever. the postal service faces tremendous financial challenges. last year the postal service recorded a loss of $15.9
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billion. it defaulted on payments to the u.s. treasury of $11.1 billion. the postal service is has exhausted its borrowing authority and continues to contend with the serious liquidity crisis. at one point last october, the postal service had less than four days of cash on hand to fund operations. for an organization the size of the postal service, which has revenues of $65 billion and a work force of 495,000 career employees, this is a razor thin margin. by way of comparison, most private sector companies usually have about two months of cash on hand. the postal service cannot continue on its current path. we are losing $25 million a day. we are weighed down financially by the increasing burden of health care obligations, and we are projecting ever increasing financial losses unless significant financial changes
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are made to our business model. we have a responsibility to provide and finance universal service to our nation, but we do not have sufficient authority to carry out this responsibility. fortunately there is an alternative path. if congress enacts legislation and legislative reform, the postal service can return to profitability. the postal service can return to long-term financial stability, and the postal service can avoid becoming a burden to the american taxpayer. it merely requires that congress provide the postal service with greater flexibility to adapt to a changing marketplace. within our current business model, we have been very aggressive in our efforts to reduce cost. since 2006, we have reduced the size of our work force by 193,000 career employees. we have reduced our cost base by $15 billion. consolidated more than 200 mail
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processing facilities, we're modifying hours at 13,000 post offices and we have reduced 21,000 delivery routes. at the same time, we are striving to retain and generate new revenues. we have seen strong growth in our package business. and this has been fueled by an effective marketing and innovation system as well as the continued growth of emers. marketing mail continues to serve as a valuable marketing channel and we expect this part of our business to remain stable for a long time. first class mail that businesses send continues to prove its value and has also been relatively stable. fortunately, people like to receive hard copy statements and other business correspondence through the mail, but unfortunately for us they are electing to pay bills online. the result is that we have seen sharp declines in first class mail sent by residential customers, and this is a trend
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that we think will continue to erode postal revenues. despite our best efforts to increase revenue and reduce operating expenses, we lack the flexibility and our business model to close a widening budget gap. this is the core cause of our financial challenges. the postal service must generate roughly $20 billion in cost reduction and revenue generation by the year 2016 to return to financial stability. we are taking every reasonable and responsible step in our power to strengthen our finances immediately, and indeed we have been directed by our board of governors to do so. last week the postal service announced the new six-day package delivery and five-day mail schedule effective august 15, 2013. the anticipated savings if fully implemented is approximately $2 billion a year. this approach to our delivery schedule ensures continued growth in our package business and helps enable ecommerce throughout the u.s. economy.
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it also reflects the changing realities of america's mailing habits. we would urge congress to eliminate any impediments to our new delivery schedule. market research conducted over the last few years has shown consistently high levels of support from the public for a new delivery schedule. just this morning cbs news released a poll that showed 71% of the public supports the new delivery schedule. the postal service also conducted a poll this weekend and it showed an 80% support level. although discussion about our delivery schedule gets a lot of attention, it is just one important part of a larger strategy to close our budget gap. it accounts for $2 billion in cost reductions while we are seeking to fill a $20 billion budget gap. during the 112th congress, the senate passed s. 1789 which included many reforms sought by the postal service. although this legislation was not enacted, we believe it could provide framework for
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swift action in the current congress. there are several key provisions needed and legislative reform for our business model. these includes requiring the postal service to sponsor its own health care system since a huge portion of our costs goes to health care for employees and retireesees. this will go a long way for resolving our retiree health benefit prefunding obligation. reforming our business model to remove restrictive government issues -- governance issues. this would enable us to adapt much more effectively to the competitive marketplace and to changes in our finances. transitioning to a new work force. based on a redefined employee of the future. this would have a retirement system for employees joining the postal service after 2015 versus defined benefits. we would also like to see a proper calculation of our federal employee retirement system surplus to use those funds to pay down the debt of the postal service.
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allow me to briefly discuss one of the most important opportunities we have to study our financial ship. this results the way that we provide health care to our employees and retirees. there are substantial opportunity for savings. up to $7 billion worth in 2016 alone for moving to a much more modern responsive customer focused system. this would involve having the postal service manage its own health care. we would competitively select a large national provider. by moving away from the federal system, nearly all of our employees and retirees would get the equivalent or better health care coverage and pay less for it. the reduce costs of the -- to the postal service would enable a major recalculation of the retiree health benefit obligation and under some scenarios might completely eliminate the need to fund the future r.h.b. payments in their entirety. the most important part of the
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health care proposal, it gets to the root cause of cost control. it bends the cost curve permanently downward and there is little value to simply remortgage an unsustainable and growing obligation. we have got to reduce these long-term issues for the long term. . we need to make decisions and act. this is fundamentally an issue of adding up the items to get to a $20 billion total by the year 2016. resulting in our health care benefit obligations will not get us there on its own. neither will the delivery schedule changes we proposed. we have to do every item we've got on our list. the financial problems for the postal service are getting bigger every year. if we had reformed the model several years ago we would be in better shape today. but if we delay another year or more we may never get back to a sustainable model and put tremendous pressure on our
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continued liquidity. we need your help to pass legislation that allows for more revenue possible. without your help the postal service could soon be running deficits operating deficits in the range of $10 billion to $15 billion annually. if congress acts, it can avoid a future scenario in which the postal service requires the taxpayer bailout, which could be in excess of $45 billion by 2017. we must change our business model. time is not on our side, it works against us every day. to preserve our mission to provide secure, reliable, and affordable universal delivery service and to do so without urging the american taxpayer, the postal service needs urgent reform to its business model. mr. chairman, let me conclude by thanking the members of this committee for recognizing the difficult challenge that we face and for your willingness to take them on this year. the postal service is a
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tremendous organization with tremendous employees and needs your help. the american people deserve a financially healthy and vital postal service, the postal service stands ready to work with this committee to achieve that goal. thank you very much. >> thank you. thanks for your testimony and leadership. and for your continued service. mr. dale, you're on. great to sigh. welcome. >> good morning, mr. chairman. ranking member coburn, members of the committee. it's a pleasure to be here to discuss the postal service's financial condition. the postal service's financial condition has been on our high risk list for years. it's gone on and off, back on. i put it back on when i was acting. i knew it was a serious issue. and so that was back in 2009 we put it back on. it originally was on in 2001 and then came off in 2007 after the
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2006 re-- reform legislation that did not work and that was prerecessionary period of time when the mail volumes declined even more. it's been on the list for years. our assessment is the financial situation is dire. that the declining mail volumes have not generated enough revenues in order to -- for the postal service to meet its expenses and financial obligations. they have been increasing their borrowing. they are up to the $15 billion debt limit in borrowing from the treasury department. they are accumulating large, unfunded benefits liabilities for their programs. if you add the debt and the unfunded liabilities for the benefit programs together, currently it's $96 billion. and as a percent of their revenue in the last five years it's grown from 83% of revenues to 147% of revenues.
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as the postmaster general mentioned there is severe liquidity problems right now. they also have not been able to come up with the financing plan to make capital investments in its delivery fleet. many of the vehicles in the fleet are approaching the end of their life span. -- life span. looking ahead, the mail volume for first class mail, which is their most profitable line, is expected to continue to decline and to 2020. so these are not the ingredients for financially sustainable business model for the future. we have said for years, comprehensive legislation and actions are needed. the postal service needs to act and the congress needs to act. now, from the postal service standpoint, since 80% of their costs are personnel costs, they need to continue to reduce the size of their work force in an appropriate manner and
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compassionate manner. they need to look at the benefits also that are being paid to their employees to make sure they are appropriately sized. there's also excess capacity in their mail processing system. this obviously is a structural issue that they have and that at core there is a structural issue between our ability to generate revenues and their expenses. they also need in my opinion to look at pricing for some of their products where they are losing money. periodicles, for example, and also -- periodicals, for example, and also stand flat mail, catalogs. those two items together are not meeting their cost to the tune of about $1 billion last year. they also need to look at new revenue sources, packages are a bright spot in that regard. and they have a number of other issues and initiatives under way to generate revenues, but really right now there's nothing on the
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horizon that's going to stem the tide of the need to address their expenses to meet expected revenues in that period with the exception of some of the package areas. with regard to the congress, there are three things i point out that congress needs to deal with in this comprehensive legislative package. first would be to modify the schedule for the prepayment of health care costs. we have noted that the schedule that was included in the 2006 legislation had large fixed payments up front. the senate bill would is have moved it to an actuarial adjustment which we think would be helpful in that regard, but it's really important that the prefunding continued to the extent the postal service is able to financially meet those payments. otherwise you're just pushing the cost down the road. and with the specter of declining mail volume, you're really not going to be in a
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better position then to meet these costs than you would be doing it on a rational basis. secondly, we believe the collective bargaining statutes governing the postal service need to be modified and modernized. they were set 40 years ago when the postal service wasn't in such a competitive position that it is now. and its business model being in question. we think that congress should require that the postal service's financial condition be mandatory consideration and binding arbitration issues going forward for the postal service. lastly but certainly not least, is, i think, the dong has to facilitate the ability of the post office to make changes to dealing with market conditions, mail volume changes, and to be able to have the flexibility to adjust their business
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operations. now, this obviously is very important as it deals with the service standards that have been set. and some of the constraints that they have been operating under. i think that the real policy issues that need to be addressed by the congress is is to provide some flexibility in those standards, but to make sure that congress is clear on what standards it wants. and i think the other issue is that oftentimes these service standards are looked at in a sort of a one-size-fits-all means for the entire country. i'm not sure that that's a necessary requirement going forward and there be more flexibility to dealle with the issues and deal with other unique aspects of the conditions. this is a real important area because if you go back and you think about the personnel costs, 80% of their costs, a lot of personnel costs are driven by the service delivery standards. you have a structural issue
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built in to your expenses on almost the fixed basis is, and you're faced with declining revenues coming from declining mail volumes. that structural issue needs to be dealt with in the legislation. i commend you, mr. chairman, ranking member coburn, members of the committee for your commitment to legislation in this area. you need to act soon on this as everybody has said this morning. i just put my two cents in in addition to that because i think otherwise you're going to face a lot of unintended consequences that nobody really needs to deal with on this particular situation. i look forward to continuing the support the committee and we at g.a.o. will do our part to the extent we can to help as you deliberate and shape the legislation going forward. thank you for the opportunity again to be here this morning. i look forward to responding to questions. >> as always we appreciate you
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being with us and testifying and appreciate working with us, helping us in other ways. we look forward, dr. coburn, and others look forward to speak with you tomorrow when you roll out the g.a.o. high-risk list. i describe that as our to-do list to stop wasting money. we are grateful to that as well. i'm going to go back to something i mentioned erblier -- earlier. i want to go back to the issue of health care costs. you both alluded to this. in terms of right sizing the enterprise, looking at the distribution system we have now, i think a lot of work's been done to rationalize it. if you look at what we passed in the senate and our legislation, moving to a modern one-day delivery in metropolitan areas, and three-day delivery, the idea of giving the postal service the
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option of going from -- there's probably a compromise somewhere that i think we can seize on to. if you look at the distribution, the postal distributions, you look at the way, smarter way we are using our post office, especially in the rural areas, not closing the post office, continuing to provide service in a cost-effective way, if you look at the rather remarkable reduction in work force, the post office -- postal service, just under 500,000, without layoffs, without firing people, trying to be humane, and i think being humane, i think that's well progress not often acknowledged. that's right sizing that we need to do. in terms of deficit reduction for our country is health care. if we can't figure out, particularly medicare and medicaid and doing it in a way
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that doesn't sabotage poor people, we are in real trouble, long term. i think it's a real critical point for the postal service going forward. congressman issa raised the issue of medicare, postal employees, post office itself pays into medicare, but unlike most other employees -- employers around the country and their employees, they don't get much benefit. as do my wife retired from dupont when she reaches 65, about another 20 years, when their employees reach 65, no longer is dupont the primary provider of the health care, it's medicare. they proimmediate the medigap coverage. so that's one issue. the second issue is, do we have the ability to create not a larger purchasing pool in the federal employee benefit plan but smaller purchasing pool
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that's comprised of postal service retireees -- employees, retirees. it's not impossible. let me ask mr. dodaro, the postmaster general have this idea for pulling postal out of fhbp creating a smaller purchasing pool. think they can actually get a health care just as good? the quality of service just as good for less money. your reaction to that? >> first, i want to be clear that the postal service even if you setaside the prefunding of health care benefits is still operating at a deficit situation. so this is a big issue and needs to be dealt with. second point i'd make is that the $7 billion that the postmaster general mentioned they would be able to save in this includes the 5.5 plea funding -- prefunding amount and $1.5 billion in their estimates
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in terms of actually bringing down the costs of providing health care. we are currently looking at that issue in response to request from this committee. we expect -- we are carefully looking at what effect it would have on the postal service employees. what potential effect it would have on the remaining part of the federal employee health care benefit system. and we expect to have a report out to you by july this year. we are taking a careful look at it. there are no easy answers. i think a lot of people believe they could drive down the cost, but we are carefully looking at how those things could be handled. >> appreciate that. one other quick question. my time will expire. new products. just mentioned maybe the best, most promising free ideas for new products to generate revenues. >> thank you, mr. chairman. three areas, first of all, securing the business first
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class mail is critical for us. it's still our largest product, even though first class has shrunk. this past year we introduced two offers for the price of one. it is giving mailers the ability to put extra messaging in their mail. we have seen a nice leveling off of that product which is good. good cash flow from that product. second of all, door direct, offspring of direct mail, gives small businesses the opportunity to hit local customers in a real simple way. we have seen almost $700 million of growth from that product in the last year and a half. package perspective we got a couple things there. we call it early bird. you bring the package in the morning. we deliver them the same day. fedex, u.p.s., other big customers, that's worked good. that's helped with a 14% increase in package business over the last two years. we have metro post, which is same day delivery. we are starting that off in san francisco. >> thanks so much. >> thank you.
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mr. donahoe, i notice looking at the numbers that your revenues were slightly lower this last year but yet your expenses were up 15%. you went from 70.6 billion what accounts for that difference? >> the biggest account was the double payment we were responsible to make into the prefunding. when we excused from that payment in 2011 but had to make two in 2012. >> that accounted for how much? >> a total of $11.1. >> so if you had not had that $11.1 billion payment -- >> you are cost still would have been relatively stable. the approach has been from a cost standpoint a number of different areas. consolidation of the operations we talked about here before. taking transportation costs out. trading in lesser cost hours, working with the unions through some either negotiated agreements or arbitrations where
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we can bring a person in for $35,000 a year versus an $80,000 a year employee. those are the things we have had to do to pull costs out. you have to understand during that time like any other organization we are facing upward pressure from inflation, health care, gasoline. we are the largest user of fuel in the nation. so that is a net reduction based on a lot of effort in this organization. >> pricing power and the ability to have the flexibility to match price with service, you don't essentially have that now. >> no. correct. >> but i don't see that mentioned anywhere in your bullet points of things that need to change. there is a sweet spot for first class mail, matter of fact, mr. guffy from oklahoma, mentioned the ability to have the pricing power.
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i'd love both your comment and gene's on why that's important and what that could do for your revenues. >> the one we took down, third point on there is streamlined governance. that means pricing power, product power, service power for our governors. when the postal service was established in 1971, they were established with the board of governors just like a corporate board of directors that has all kind of power. in between the establishment and the final solution there was a postal regulatory rate commission put into place with good intentions. i'm not talking against the intention behind that, but it took the power away from the board to set price, set service levels, and set products. what we are asking for is to go back into that direction. we have no issue with regulatory commission, but they should be strictly after the fact. this lets us go fast. it lets us get in the markets that you have already discussed here today. as long as it's legal for us to do, we should be pursuing it. it also gives us the opportunity to change prices.
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i will say this from a price standpoint. let us resolve the cost issues before we go and start pushing pricing up because there is a real demand quo shen in there and we don't want to sink the system by generating mail from price increase. >> obviously in the dynamic market that the post office is operating in now, the flexibility on pricing is really important. the current structure sets it up in two tiers. one where they have a monopoly or market dominance in that area. there's price caps set on them and competitive pricing for other areas where they do have the flexibility to try to recover their costs. i mention add couple of these areas in my opening statement in terms of meeredicals -- mentioned a couple of these areas in my openings statements in terms of periodicals. in the point of both return where you don't want to drive down volume if you overprice in that area. but they need some pricing flexibility to be able to move quickly in this environment. a lot of what's happening here
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has been driven by changes in technology. those changes in technology are going to continue to occur. and at a rapid rate. they need the flexibility to do that. they need to have an accountability and oversight structure as well to be able to provide the necessary accountability and authority. >> my time's about up. i want to say this for the record. i don't think anybody has a lot tougher job than what the postmaster general has. and the fact is that the post office is in trouble and i congratulate you. there's really 536 postmaster generals, unfortunately, and the goal of our reform ought to be that there's one. that we give you the flexibility to do the service to keep the standards there and have a system that offers the best service at the best price with the best quality the country can have. i know a lot of things you have done are controversial.
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but leadership's about leading. and i want to congratulate you for having led. thank you. >> thank you. >> i approve that message. >> senator, you're next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm pleased to be on this committee because particularly this first hearing affects a lot of wyoming people. everybody in wyoming, in fact. and we are one of those rural states, too. i appreciated the senator from montana's comments earlier. the post offices are absolutely essential in our rural areas. one of the difficulties that we have had was the list that was sent out saying that post offices were going to be closed. and i think it was completely wrong process to go through. said they were going to close and came in and explained that they were going to be closed. then of course congress got in the way. the best process for any of
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these people in any of these rural states who have to solve problems themselves all the time is to let them know how much it costs and ask them how they could reduce the cost. i think you would be surprised at the innovative ideas the people have so that they can continue to get the kind of service that they have come to expect from the post office. another thing because of our rural areas we have had some difficulty with is the mail sorting was moved to bigger areas. and you talked about what sounds like a great idea, same-day delivery. we used to have same-day delivery on the local stuff. they dropped it into a separate box that's local. and the people that are local sort it and get it out to the people that live in the town that day. now you drop it all in one box and it takes a day to go to another town, they sort it, it takes another day to come back. and they get their local mail.
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the ones that i really hear from are the one that is have presorted mail. if it's presorted it's all ready to go out, but it's loaded on a truck, hauled 130 miles, and it's done nothing with it. then it's loaded back on a truck and hauled back again and it's delivered. they keep asking me, how come that has to happen? and the people that have that presorted mail wonder why it then takes longer to get their mail out than it used to. so there are a lot of ideas out there in these rural areas that i think can cut down a lot of the costs. the post office is an essential part of the community in most of those places. solicit their ideas and there will be a lot less problems. i'm new to this so i probably got some questions that have been answered before, but the biggest one that i'm curious about, i know there's been this
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precipitous drop in mail volume across the country. i know there are a number of reasons the internet, the popularity of email, and the lost art of letter writing which you might want to encourage through english classes, i still think one of the biggest thrills people get is an actual delivered, hard copy letter that they can keep or frame or whatever they want to do. there are more and more of them being framed because they are so rare. but with this drop in total postal volume, has the postal service reduced the number of employees to reflect the reduced needs? how do the employee numbers compare with the volume today? has that number changed from five years ago? either one of you. >> thank you, senator. let me address a couple of these issues. answer your question first, i want to come back on the service issues. first of all our people do a tremendous job. they are very, very productive. you'll hear a couple of our union presidents come up to talk about some of the things that
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they know from employee perspective they do a great job. in the year 2,000 we had 804,000 employees. today we have about 195,000. our reduction in head count has been continuous. we have done that without layoffs. we are proud of that act. in that same time mail volume has not dropped off that quickly. our employees are much more productive on a yearly basis. until the recession we miss add couple quarters in there, we had probably about 10 years of productivity improvements in a row and we had three more years, even in a declining volume. people do a great job. we have been very conscience of trying to cut costs ahead of time and trying to anticipate the volume loss we have seen. from a service standpoint, there is a number of reasons why we do what we do as far as consolidating and moving mail to locations to sort. it's more efficient, it's more efficient to sort mail through a large automated mail sorting system we have. i would be very happy to hear from our mailers locally in
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cities in wyoming to see how we could speed that up. but a lot of it is due to the cost issues we are faced with. i think going forward your point, senator begich, from a rural perspective, there are special things we need do. we need to listen to our customers. we have done that in the cases of making some changes in post offices. we have had 13,000 town hall meetings over the past year across the country. talked to customers to find out when the best time it is to serve them. how to serve them. we have made changes accordingly. and also saved some money that way. >> thank you. i appreciate the 15,000 town meetings. i just want to reiterate again if the towns could have been better prepared before the town meetings, you might not have even needed the town meetings. i think they would have supplied some ideas for cost savings so they could have this great community attribute. i didn't want to imply that the postal workers are not doing
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good work and efficient work. because my father-in-law was a postal worker. his dad was a postal worker. we have a great interest in that in our family. >> senator tester. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank both you guys for being here today. i appreciate you being here so we can get a little information. what was -- postmaster general, what was your loss for 2012 in total -- >> loss in 2012 was 15.9 billion. $11.1 billion was due to default for prefunding of the retirement health benefits. >> without the prefunding, about $4.8 billion was your loss. mr. dodaro, there's been numbers floating around on what saturday delivery is going to save and what potentially it could cost in percentage of mail voling drop. were you able to look at that at all?
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>> the last time we looked at that, the proposal at that time was also to eliminate packages on saturday as well. so that's changed. so our prior analysis really isn't up to date. i would say it's one of the areas where there's the largest opportunity for savings that we have looked at, but it needs -- it would be dependent upon how they would make the transition in terms of realigning their employees to achieve the savings that are anticipated. make the appropriate changes and to see what the type of response would be from mail orders and businesses in terms of change over time. we have also said that change alone is really not going to provide the -- solve the answer. if it is considered and included, it needs to be part after comprehensive package of reforms. -- part of a competitive --
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comprehensive package of reforms. >> when the packages weren't being delivered. what was the figure? >> the original estimate was $3.1 billion. we pulled that down to $2.67 as we have taken more costs out of the system. we think it's probably around $2 billion now because we have to add probably about $600 million back in for what we call dynamic routing of packages on the weekend. if you recall the original proposal was to keep post offices opened, mailbox delivery on saturday. so the transportation in the post offices are already opened. those costs are already considered. >> what have you guys estimated with the drop in mail volume would be? >> i'll tell you if we have spoken to a number of customers and have never been able to ascertain the number. our best estimate is around $100 million in what we call contribution.
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if you take a look at what's happened on saturday, senator, there have been many, many people moving away from saturday as a requested delivery day. most of your circulars, supermarket circulars, they are monday through friday. a lot of the catalogers, they'll drop, they like monday, tuesday, wednesday. so is that was the choice was if we had to eliminate a day because we only had five days' worth of mail delivery, it would be saturday. >> i got you there. i would actually if you are going to eliminate a day i would agree. didn't the postal service commission a research that said with the post office closures and saturday there would be a drop of over 10%? 10.3% to be exact in mail volume? >> i know that the commission looked at -- when we went to the commission for a ruling and advisory opinion on saturday, i think their number was the total of $600 million versus ours. >> that 600 million would
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reflect 10.3%. >> that's about 1%. 65 billion. >> from my perspective, i don't know if you are going to deal with this any more, but it would be really good to get numbers that we could take a look at. the fact of the matter is everybody on this dais wants to try to help the postal service become more economical. that's one of my arguments. that's the argument i made to congressman issa and congressman cummings, if we are doing things that rulely reduce our mail volume and reduce the profitablity, we are headed in the wrong direction. >> if i could add -- >> to gene, go ahead. >> i visited your state last summer for a couple reasons. number one talk to our customers about what they would like to see in their post offices. theaped us come up with the post plan which was modified hourgs, keeping the mailboxes available. the other thing that people said to us was, we heard this, too, with the commission hearings, we understand mail's going away. you have to be efficient.
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our latest surveys we just did this weekend, including rural areas across the board said the postal service must be efficient. they also told us deliver packages. you told me farm implements. a farmer can't wait for monday deliverry. we heard you loud and clear. that's why we have come back with this proposal. we think it's a win-win. we know it's tough take ag way saturday deliverry. the financial situation we are faced with -- >> to get to it. i'm not -- what i need is i need numbers that work. million dodaro, are you going to do any more work on this? >> we definitely can. we have a good underpinning and understanding. we'll look at the cost savings and tradeoff issues in terms of what the estimates have been made for mail volume. we get -- we'll get that to the committee. >> i appreciate, mr. chairman. my time has run out. i have more questions but we'll submit them. the issue is this, if i might close quickly, the issue is this.
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we are changing mail standards in rural america. we are changing them from one to three to two to three. an quite frankly with the closure of some of the mail processing centers tag go to be much longer than that. you can argue with me if you want but i'll show you the mail once this goes into effect. can i tell you that if i have a piece of mail that has to go somewhere, and it has to be there in a date and time specific, you got to be competitive or i'm not going to use you. >> we are still the best solution. i will be more than happy to come out and sit down and go through. i got all kind of data that shows how much time it is. ill will be more than happen to -- happy to sit down. >> i think senator begich. talk to us more about alaska. >> mr. chairman, congratulations -- we don't like that genetically engineered frankenfish.
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someday we'll get f.d.a. here and have a conversation. mr. chairman, congratulations on being chairman. you'll hear about alaska every meeting. first thank you for being here. thanks for being part of this today. and again thanks for the work you have done the last period of time, last session in trying to get somewhere. mr. postmaster general, let me if i can, last summer you released a plan at some point you -- the idea was to keep the post offices opened but modified, reduce hours, kind of work that system versus shutting down. can you assure me, us, and of course i'm going to be parochial here from alaska's perspective, that means post offices in alaska will not be shut down in the rural areas, especially, but you will end up just modifying hours based on the plan you put out last year? >> yes. we listened to our customers. >> i'll stop you there. i never want to go further than
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the answer. i appreciate that. second, you heard my conversation with -- two congressmen here earlier regards to bypass mail. i think you understand we have had multiple meetings on this about the importance of it. and i really appreciate your recognition of that. as we have talked before, universal service includes getting it to everywhere. sometimes it's more expensive. sometimes it's less expensive. that's your philosophy is that still the same? >> that is still the same. we know how important the u.s. mail is in the state of alaska and many of the other islands that we serve all through the atlantic and pacific. >> very good. how much 6 your business -- of your business, i think you told me this once before, for the record, how much of your business is the last piece for u.p.s. and fedex? you have relationships is it 1%? 5%? 10%? >> we have nondisclosure agreement. just to give you a perspective,
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fedex is our fourth largest customer. u.p.s. is is now in the top 10. >> ok. i'm assuming they want to see this postal reform done as quickly as possible. is that a fair statement? >> absolutely. >> if you are unable to or were unable to accomplish that, is there clearly -- we are the last one in these rural areas is that a fair statement? >> fair statement. >> what will happen? >> i will tell you this, it's not just fedex and u.p.s., there are many other companies, banks, mutual funds looking for reliable, affordable, dependable mail service. that's the key to resolving this issue. we do not want large companies like citibank or bank of america, as well as fedex and u.p.s., to seek other ways to get their product delivered. we do a great job. we do it affordably, dependably. >> assuming they can even find a network as built up as yours.
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>> there is no network near as built up as ours. >> now that we are kind of coming out of the recession and things are -- the economy is getting better. i just saw a report that i just read that indicated that treasury had a surplus for the first time in five years in their january month, which is because the economy is getting better, people are working again. are you seeing any stabilization or is it still a deep slide of first class mail or general mail overall? >> let me -- there's three -- does that make sense? >> absolutely. there's three key issues we look at from a product standpoint. packages are increasing. we are seeing double-digit increase. 17% just for this month of december. 14% the last two years. been great. direct mail, most direct way to get to your eyes better than tv, radio, or anything else. we are starting to see that moving up with the economy. first class mail you got two things going on. commercial first class, bills
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and statements sent. pretty stable. first class bill payments continue to drop at a rate -- >> that's just individual, internet, pay pal. >> it's people paying bills online, which you can't fight it. it's free. what's happening, if you put it in perspective, in the last 10 years we have lost 60% of that volume. just put it in terms of revenue, $14 billion in revenue for that revenue stream. if we didn't have that volume drop off, we wouldn't worry about prefunding health care. >> i understand. couple of those indicators are stabilizing and moving in the right direction. >> yes. >> gene, let me ask you a question. thank you for the report. thanks for the work you have done. are you -- will your work continue in the sense, the question i have, let's assume for the moment the bill passes, will you be part of the process of ensuring that those things we put into place that we have said
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and the postmaster general said will save x amount of money to monitor that in such a way? or is that something we have to help you create that framework to make sure that happens? does that question make sense? >> yes. we will stay involved. as i mentioned in my opening statement, the postal service is on the high-risk list. we'll keep it there until we are sure the problems have been solved. in other words, once legislation's passed, we won't take it off until implementation is successfully achieved by the postal service. we'll stay monitoring that situation and providing regular reports. >> based on the metrics within the legislation as well as what you have established? >> that's exactly right. we made the mistake of taking them off too early before. i'm not going to make it twice. >> very good. thank you very much. i know my time's up and i'll have questions for the next passenger. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i want to thank you for doggedly working on postal reform over the last few years.
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but especially last year. and you and senator lieberman, senator collins, and senator brown for the postal reform bill. thank you for your hard work. i'm assuming that mr. donahoe, you would agree if the house had taken up the senate bill or passed a similar bill to that and got it to the president you would not have recently made this announcement on the saturday delivery, that the bill that the senate had passed had provisions in there to make sure this wouldn't happen, at least for a couple years, do you agree with that? >> we need to move as quickly as we can to close the $20 billion gap, and that includes changing the delivery schedule. i think sometimes people think that's not a lot of money, but to us it's a substantial amount. the volume's not there and we need to move on. package delivery is what people are looking for and that's what we are proposing. >> i don't want to bring up a touchy subject, let me go ahead and do it. that is your legal authority for
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ending saturday deliverry. i know that in the appropriation bills over the years we put provisions in the appropriations bill that basically say you have to deliver on saturdays, or six-day delivery, and there's public law 112-175, the continuing appropriations resolution which extend the consolidated appropriations act of 2012 as public law 112-174. there's a section there, section 101, that specifically extends the funding levels of the f.y. appropriations law under the authority and conditions provided and in the previous funding resolution. except as provided by the c.r. and it doesn't contain the language. could you articulate for the committee your legal authority under current law to end saturday delivery? >> we have through the --
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kosovar the -- over the course of the last couple years looked at everything we do. our networks, how we deliver, how we provide health care, everything. including the six to five days. we have challenged ourselves. i have talked here before as part of my testimony and written testimony about how we know we can save $7 billion with our own health care plan. we have challenged ourself to figure out from a standpoint of the legality of the six to five-day mandates and it is our interpretation based on what my attorneys have told me that we are clear to move ahead on this. we have time because i know people have said to me, well, there is a c.r. and it expires at the end of march. i would inform this congress to not put any other restrictions on us from a six to five-day perspective. we have lost substantial volumes. we have lost 27% of our total volume, over 30% of first class volume. customers, every poll we talked to, every customer we talked to,
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business centers, receivers, do the right thing. be responsible. this is a responsible act. people have said to us, hey, i want my medicine in the mail. we are going to do that. i want my e-bay and amazon packages, we are going to do that. but we cannot afford with a substantial $14 billion loss we have seen in first class mail to continue to prop up six-day delivery if it is not needed and there is no demand for it. >> that wasn't my question. my question is what is your legal authority to do it. you said you are satisfied you have legal authority. i'm not. i'm not sure the committee s i'm not sure the congress is. i would like for you to -- you don't have to do it right now, but i would like for you to articulate in writing what your legal authority is. >> we provide add nine-page legal opinion to your staff. we'll be more than happen, my -- happy, you my attorneys will be more than happy to talk to you. it's $2 billion. it gives us liquidity we need
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now and we need to move ahead and change these delivery schedules. >> because in 2011 you stated that congress must act to -- congress must act to allow the postal service the authority -- >> i agree. and in 2011 and 2010 i also thought that we were bound by a lot of the health care laws we thought we had. as we have researched this we have found a way to change the health care provisions in this organization to provide better health care to our employees and retirees and reduce the $7 billion cost a year we are paying for prefunding and health care for our employees. it's the same approach with everything we have done. we challenged ourself because we have had to. people have accused me of moving the goal post. you don't want the postal service to fail in this country. it's my responsibility and i have taken that responsibility to make sure that we do informing our power. i'm imploring congress, please do not force us back into a six-day window. let us make the move in august.
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it's well planned. customers can take that to the bank. people will adjust and make sure we deliver what people want. that's packages. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> before we recognize senator levin, you say i think what you said, mr. donahoe, is you would like for the postal service to go from six to five-day deliverry. august 1? >> august 5. >> if we are still here and this committee, this chamber, senate and house f. we are still here on august 5, debating this issue in postal reform legislation, we have failed. >> i agree. >> i have no intention, i know senator coburn, i think my colleagues, we have no intention of stopping debating these issues. it's imperative we act. i want us to get this baby done. we have plenty of other stuff like cybersecurity to go on the high-risk list and immigration reform. we need to. senator levin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to you and dr. coburn.
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i think we do have a hope of getting a postal reform bill done again this year. we did it last year without getting the house to agree to it. there were provisions in there that were critically important in terms of reforms which were not involved, but were important. so we have to continue to try to move in that direction. i'm not satisfied with your answer to senator pryor's questions, postmaster. first of all the legal opinion which you sent to the committee, i guess, i haven't seen it, mr. chairman, do we have that legal opinion? if so can the rest of the members get a copy of it? >> i'll ask our staff. do we have that legal opinion? >> again i would be more than happy to have the attorneys come up and spend time with you, too. >> a copy of the opinion would help. you ask us not to act which strikes me what difference does it make whether we prohibit the
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-- what you're saying you're going to do or not. because apparently you believe you have the legal authority despite what congress has said to cancel the six-day. >> what aim asking is is that congress would not implement any language that would prohibit us from moving away. >> i'm asking you, what difference does it make? whether we put that language in or not because you apparently believe it despite that language, you have the legal authority to cancel that six-day. >> that's our interpretation the way the law is written that we can move. what i'm asking is pleads do not put language in that says specifically you can't do it. >> that's important to hear. you did say senator pryor said that congress must act to allow the postal service to -- the authority to determine delivery frequentcy. you said congress must act and we did it. and it's despite what's in the
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law, your lawyer, apparently is saying that you can cancel that sixth day. >> i think it's important that we sit down and walkthrough our interpretation of the c.r. versus the appropriations. i think that would clear things up, from our opinion. >> we'll look forward to reading that opinion. i did send you -- you have been very responsive in terms of certain information i have asked relative to the contracts with fedex and with u.p.s. and we appreciate that. we understand that they are provided to us confidentially because it's got certain information in there which apparently is propry tearry. fair enough. -- propriatary. fair enough. we are not able to act on that. i can't do anything with it because of the condition under which it's given to me which i respect. i'm not going to violate that condition, but on the other hand i'm handcuffed and i think it's important that there be oversight of those contracts.
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those are important contracts. they are important to us. they are important to those private entities. fedex, u.p.s., are profitable. we deliver a lot of their packages. there's a benefit to us. we apparently make money in those contracts as well. in terms of the relative benefit, congress has got to have some mechanism to oversee those contracts. and so i don't know whether the g.a.o. can do it or -- can you do that? >> sure. we can take a look at it but we are bound by the same disclosure requirement. >> you can give us conclusions. i'm not saying they are not. i can't -- i'm not able to handle the material because i can't do anything with it. and again i respect propriatary limitations. >> it's the american way. compete the contracts.
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that's what we do. we compete. every contract in this postal service is competed. >> that's fine. but it's also the american way that there be congressional oversight of your contracts. i hope it's the american way. we don't have that oversight now. if the g.a.o. can give us that review, i think it would be reassuring to all of us. i'm not suggesting anything other than there needs to be congressional oversight and there isn't unless we have some entity look at it as they will give us some conclusions on it. >> we would be happy to do that. >> mr. chairman -- that's something i would like to see done but i can't do that. it's up to the chair as to whether or not to think that that's something which is appropriate. >> our i.g. also does it. you are certainly welcomed to that information. >> could we ask the g.a.o. to do that? >> we'll come back to that. >> that's fine. the chair's and ranking member's decision. i would ask them to consider that. my time is up. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> all right. i ask dr. coburn, he said if we do that we'll be here for supper time. we'll forgo another round. i do want to just follow up on questions from senator levin. the legal opinion we appreciate mr. done yoho, are you providing that certainly for dr. coburn and myself and our stafments i want to make sure that others on the committee have received the same document. the postmaster general has offered to send their legal team up to brief us. answer our questions. let's take him up on that. the other thing i want to say, just in closing, i thank you very much for coming. i think it's a very helpful hearing. sometimes people hold the hearings to be able to embarrass
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folks that ought to be embarrassed. sometimes not. one of the reasons we do hearings in most cases, senl this case, is to find out how do we get to yes? how do we resolve this issue? how do we solve this problem? this is imminently solvable. it's not easy, but this one we can fix and solve. i think the dialogue we have had in the first two panels here today i think good spirit here with the members of the committee that we are -- with the house here. house leadership, that's all very encouraging. we still have a panel to go. we'll have good witnesses here to add to that. the last thing i want to say is, the bank, one of the several banks that my family uses when they first started off in service, i go to the a.t.m. machine and i put in my debit card to get money. i put it in and a message would pop up in the window of the
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a.t.m. machine it would say the bank and say friendly. but you'll get used to it. friendly but you'll get used to it. i like to think that's our motto . i want to say that i have noticed this year in traveling by airplanes that when i -- we go -- most of us don't like going through the security checks at airports. i ride the train most of the time, but i have noticed both with t.s.a., first i thought it was my imagination, now i'm not sure, i'm sensing a greater friendliness and helpfulness. >> you need to fly more often. >> maybe in oklahoma. i'm not sure it's my imagination or not, i certainly thought -- i think that they are beginning to start a little bit of a culture change. i just want to say when i walk into a post office for service, delaware or anywhere else, in delaware they generally know me
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for the most part they like me, not everybody, but they are friendly. but too often i see the provision of service in post offices i would not describe as friendly and welcoming. in some cases because they are providing the service behind the counter have so much on them and trying to grapple with big challenges, and i can understand that. i would just ask as we move forward and come through this tough time and hopefully merge on the other side of the river that we focus more on a friendliness, customer friendliness. not just deliver the stuff door to door, but also as we go to the post office to drop off our packages or buy stamps. i close with that. >> i was going to make a point not many people do more oversight than we do. i trust, general donahoe, to make a good contract with fedex and u.p.s. it's in his best interest. it's kind of like us telling n.i.h. which electron microscope to buy. there comes a point where we are
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questioning everything. the fact is we need to question the real problems that we have right now in terms of service, delivery, and price. we need to give the post office the flexibility to do what they can do to prepare to offer that service in a way that puts them back in fiscal health. and i think we've got a great team there. we got great employees. all the way down the line. we need to give them the flexibility to do that. like i said, i'll emphasize again. our problem with the post office is we have 536 postmaster generals. until we change that and let somebody run the post office, and let us look appropriately at their performance rather than second-guessing every small item, we are never going to get out of this. i fully support you going to five day delivery. i think it's an absolute must. even if we, all we are going to do is waste $4 billion that we could have saved in the time at
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a time when we are running huge deficits and we have to expand your borrowing capability to do that. thank you both for being here. >> thank you. >> with that we bid you adieu, thanks very much for your input. good to see you. we'll invite our third panel of witnesses to come forward at this time, please.
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>> while our witnesses are gathering for the third panel, take a moment to express our appreciation from the members to our staff on both democrat and republican side. one of the things we -- we -- i know we have our differences from time to time, but i especially like the idea not just members working together but our staffs. i think we have a lot of cooperation. we put together this panel and the other panels in preparing for this hearing. thank you for your work on that. panel number three. third and final panel. like to say we are saving the best for last, but the other two were pretty good. we'll see.
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just very brief introductions from our third -- very, very brief introductions to our third panel. then we'll ask them to proceed with their testimony. first witness on the panel three is cliff duffy. mr. guffy has served as president of the american postal workers union since 2010. we enjoy working with you very much. you and your team. next we have jeanette guyer -- dwyer. we are glad you are here. jeanette dwyer, president of national rural letter carriers asocialation. your second year, right? since 2011. very nice to see you. thank you.
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we have three presidents here. national association of postmasters of the united states, i think your third year since 2010, as i recall. very nice of you to come. thank you for joining us today. and where are you from? >> wisconsin. >> wisconsin. senator was here earlier. she has another hearing she needs to be at. she said if she got back in time she wanted to introduce you. i don't think she's going to be able to. from her to you, welcome. >> we'll leave this hearing at this point for coverage of the u.s. house today. the third panel of the hearing will continue online at c-span.org. of course can you see it in its entirety in the c-span video library. go to c-span.org. now to the house as members are returning for legislative business this afternoon. one bill on the agenda today dealing with allowing churches
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and other houses of worship to be eligible for federal disaster leaf assistance. one series of votes expected. that should happen a little bit after 1:00 p.m. eastern. now to live coverage of the u.s. house here on c-span.
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the speaker: the house will be in order. the prayer will be offered by our guest chaplain, john quinn from the diocese of san francisco, san francisco, california. the chaplain: lord, we give deep felt thanks for the great prove den rble blessing that makes us citizens of the united states of america. the men and women of this house in their service to our country daily confront seemingly intractable public issues, a burden at times overwhelming. but you work even in the dark places of human history.
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teach us this day not to fear the darkness, but to put our hand in yours and resolutely seek the light. you reveal yourself as the father of us all. we ask you to bring us together in civic harmony and in the common task of making real in our time the ideals and the dreams that make us america. as we turn now to the work of this day, we ask for more than human wisdom and pray that your blessing moving across our continent will keep us one nation, under god, with liberty and justice for all. amen.
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the speaker: the chair has examined the journal of the last day's proceedings and announces to the house his approval thereof. pusuant to clause 1 of rule 1, the journal stands aprove the pledge of allegiance today will be led by the gentleman from texas, mr. green. mr. green: i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the speaker: without objection, the gentlelady from california, ms. eshoo, is recognized for one minute. ms. eshoo: thank you, mr. speaker. it's a great privilege to welcome archbishop john quinn to the house of representatives and thank him for offering the opening prayer today. archbishop quinn is one of the
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preeminent spiritual leaders and theolow januarys of our nation. his church service spans over four decades, beginning with hised or nation in rome in 1953. he has served as a pastor, as an educator, as pro vost of the university of san diego college for men, as auxiliary bishop of san diego, as bishop of oklahoma city and tulsa as the first archbishop of oklahoma city and in 1977 he was same named the sixth archbishop of san francisco. his fellow bishops elected him president of the national conference of catholic bishops in 1977, where he led with great distinction for a three-year term. in december, 1995, after 18 years of tending his glock at -- flock at the archdiocese of san francisco, he resigned and
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was given a fellowship at campion hall. we have been inspired by the leadership of this humble and holy man. thank you for gracing the house of representatives with your prayer and your presence and for strengthening our country with the faith that calls each of us to be instruments of peace and justice. the speaker pro tempore: the chair will entertain 15 further requests for one-minute speeches on each side of the aisle. for what purpose does the gentleman from california rise? >> i rise to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> thank you, madam speaker. last night i had hoped to hear from the president that he would challenge both houses to pass the first priority, a budget. the house has done it, the senate has not, for the last three years. in this house, we talk a lot about the sluggish economy and
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our continual defment we talk in trillions. let's take the zeros away and talk in household income. mr. mccarthy: if we were a house held we bring in roughly $24,500 a year but spend $34,500. that means we add $11,000 to the credit card each year but the credit card already has $160,000 on the credit card. we have to get the house in order. the senate has refused to pass a budget in three years. the time is now to move america forward. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from new york rise? the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> last night, president obama argued that rebuilding infrastructure is important to
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the economy. today the u.s. chamber of commerce is holding a hearing on infrastructure. mr. higgins: according to the u.s. chamber we will experience $360 billion in lost growth over the next five years. our decaying infrastructure is a significant drain on the economy. freight rail bottlenecks cost us $250 billion a year. oour inadequate ports will cost up to $270 billion in exports by 2020, losing 738,000 job. a lot of people around here spend time whining about china. china invests 9% of its economy in infrastructure investment. we invest less than 3%. stop whining about china and doing? about it. it's time to night build here at home, right here in america, and congress should listen. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: for
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what purpose does the gentleman from georgia rise? >> to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> madam speaker, i rise to congratulate my hometown, the city of gainesville, georgia, for its leadership in creating and sustaining jobs despite the economic challenges fatesing our nation. gainesville was ranked as the best performing city in georgia last year. they found 1,200 jobs in 742 retained existing jobs creating and generating $164 million in capital investment for gainesville and hall county. this puts gainesville in the top 10 of small cities for job growth in the u.s. mr. collins: gainesville was ranked sixth in job growth nationwide from 2010 to 101 -- 2011 and sect from 2011 to 2012. from food to auto services, manufacture, retail, more businesses are calling gainesville home which means
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more opportunities for georgians. i commend the leadership of gainesville and hall county for creating a -- an atmosphere where business can thrive. i hope the rest of the country looks to gainesville for an example of how growth can be achieved even in a difficult economic rye clie mat. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentlewoman from california rise? the gentlewoman is recognized. >> that's night, president obama challenged us to come together to improve our nation's fiscal health today and for the time to come. it was never intended to be good fiscal policy or policy period. ms. chu: if these cuts take place, the american will be harmed by the representatives sent here to serve them. this is unacceptable. in just two weeks, if we don't act, across the board cuts will
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deeply hurt every aspect of our lives. schools, health programs, law enforcement, research and development. under sequestration, all of these will be decimated. in our fragile economy, our nation cannot afford to wait. so i call on our colleagues from the other side of the aisle to rise to the challenge. we cannot keep on going from one manufactured crisis to the next. work with us to stop sequestration before it's too late. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentlewoman from north carolina rise? >> i ask unanimous consent to suspend the rules and address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. president obama had a chance last night to lay out a plan for smart, strategic savings to replace his devastating sequester. we were all watching, we were all listen, we want to work together on this. instead of laying out a vision for how government can avoid his sequester, his sequester,
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by living within its means, the president decided to make the impractical case for passing the buck to taxpayers through even more taxes. house republicans have known all along the president's sequester was a terrible plan. we gave the super committee a chance to do the right thing and when they didn't, we led. twice since last summer we passed throtion preserve savings while removing the threat that sequester poses to american jobs and national security. the president didn't join the conversation until recently. march 1 is coming. will he or won't he put forth a credible plan to stop the damage of his se quest her republicans have responded. he and our friends on the other side of the aisle have not. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas rise? >> i request permission to address the house for one minute and revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. green: i rise in opposition to the huge education cuts in the sequester.
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this massive sequestration is an inefficient way to make spending decisions to affect millions of americans. however this is what we agreed to. for the house majority has not had an open and frank debate on how the chamber can agree to reduce our national debt and deficit while helping our students and hardworking professionals succeed. on sequestration alone it will reduce funding by an estimated $4.8 billion. the dotcht education funding will return to pre2003 levels, impacting 8.9 million to 9347b9 million students posm ten rble job losses in the education feemed are rejected -- are projected to be 76,400 to 08,500. this will hurt more students. i call on those on both sides of the aisle to find a way to reduce our deficit while protecting our students and
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educational professionals. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from rhode island rise? >> i ask yams consent to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. cicilline: last night, president obama outlined a bold vision for his second term in office and spoke about the number one issue facing the country, jobs. he understands if we want to get the country back on the right track, we have to invest in areas esen torble growing our economy and strengthening the middle class. with families across america and particularly in my home state of rhode island facing tremendous challenges, it's critical that our friends on the other side of the aisle put aside partisan gamesmanship and start working together on the common sense goals that president obama outlined. we invigorating manufacturing, making education a priority and developing new sources of clean energy, as well as a long-term strategy to deal with our debt. it's true republicans an democrats have a choice. we can either work to find
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common ground and move our country forward as a whole or continue the partisan fighting that's created grid lock in washington. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and real solutions to put our country back to work and address the serious challenges facing our nation. i yield back the balance of my time the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania rise? >> madam speaker, we have before us -- the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman seek indianapolis consent to address the house? >> i seek unanimous consent to address the house. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> we have before us the question of allowing indiscriminate and hampleful cuts to to our armed services and other vital work. i agree we must address the debt and deficit but it's not a new problem.
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we have fixed it before. right now our national debt stands at about 105% of g.d.p., gross domestic product. in 1946, it was close to 122%. and we fixed it. not by austerity, not by slash and burn. we fixed it by investing in america. we built our national highway system, we made our armed services the envy of the world, we even rebuilt europe and japan. we went to the moon, for heaven's sakes. by the 1960's, our economic growth was so great that it was impossible for anyone to complain about the roosevelt debt with a straight face. mr. cartwright: that's what we need to do now. we need to believe in ourselves and invest in the great engines of our economic recovery, our infrastructure and our middle class and so, mr. speaker, i urge the members, be bullish on america. and repeal and replace this
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dangerous sequester. i yield back the remainder of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from michigan rise? >> madam speaker, i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. . >> madam speaker, last night in hess state of the union address president obama outlined a real job creation plan to grow our economy and strengthen america's middle class. however, sequestration is just 15 days away, threatening to stall our economic recovery. mr. kildee: sequestration would be devastating for many programs and services that my constituents and all americans rely on. head start, the women, infants, and children, w.i.c. nutrition program, medical research funding, indian health service, police officers, food inspectors. funding for all these crucial
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areas would be decimated. sequestration would also make our country less safe by implementing reckless across-the-board defense cuts. we have already reduced the deficit by $2.5 trillion, mostly through spending cuts. there's no question that we can eliminate additional wasteful spending. however, we should be strategic in finding ways to reduce our deficit with sequestration looming, madam speaker, americans need real solutions not another 11th hour cliffhanger. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from hawaii rise? >> to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized for one minute. >> madam speaker, i rise today to speak about the devastating sequestration guts that are set to take effect unless we in congress act by march 1. ms. gabbard: if these cuts are allowed to occur, our military, our national security, and our communities will suffer.
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hawaii is one of the top 10 states that will take the biggest hit. we have already seen these anticipated cuts playing out at the pearl harbor shipyard where 133 apprentices will not be hired. and 30 temporary workers will lose their job. this is affecting real people, their families, as well as our military's readiness. sometimes are tough and we must all share in the sacrifice, but we cannot do so at the expense of our military readiness or on the backs of our middle class families, seniors, and children. i yield back the remainder of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from oregon rise? does the gentleman speak to suspend the rules -- ask unanimous consent to suspend the rules? mr. defazio: absolutely. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. defazio: sequestration, it's inside the beltway talk. what does it mean? it means stupid across-the-board budget cuts. take a program of tremendous
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public import, whether it's defense, public safety program, student financial aid, cut it 10%. take a turkey, something we don't need anymore, something stupid, obsolete, registering kids for draft that doesn't exist and will never exist, cut it 10%. so instead of doing targeted cuts and getting rid of programs we don't need anymore, that don't work anymore, and looking at reasonable revenues, we are going to cut everything 10%. it's going to have a real impact. i was told yesterday by the office of management and budget, the first measurable impact is in my district, a 10% sequestration of payments to counties in my state from the interior department which means in douglas county, oregon, the last 10 road deputies are gone. in another county, one road deputy, the last road deputy is gone. we are talking about counties the size of states here with no rural law enforcement. that's because of the stupid sequestration. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired.
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for what purpose does the gentlewoman from texas rise? the gentlewoman ask to suspend the rules and address the house for one minute? the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. jackson lee: thank you, madam speaker. i join with my colleagues to say that sequester is not the answer. when i began to look at my district and i see high school students and middle school students and elementary school students, i say sequester is not the answer. yes, we can look reasonably at how we improve reducing the debt, but not on the backs of seniors. not eliminating the social network. then with respect to our children, do we tell them we close the doors on summer jobs? close the doors on the best teachers? innovative teaching? science labs? absolutely not. so i join with the president to say that it's an inflicted wound. let's be adults. finally, madam speaker, let's do our job on gun safety.
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let's ensure universal background checks. let's have registration of those guns that are owned by gun owners like we register a car. and let's make sure that my legislation that's introduced that we secure the guns in our homes so that children cannot access your guns because you left them around. i am not interested in coming into your home and taking your guns, but you have a responsibility to be able to secure them. that law was passed in the state of texas. a state that prides its guns. let's be a group of congress that can work together. we can't do this, i yield back. -- we can do this. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, the chair will postpone further proceedings today on the motion to suspend the rules on which a recorded vote or the yeas and nays are ordered or on which the vote incurs objection under clause six of rule 20, record votes on postponed questions will be taken later.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> madam speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 592. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 592, a bill to amend the robert t. stafford disaster relief and emergency assistance act to clarify that houses of worship are eligible for certain disaster relief and emergency assistance on terms equal to other eligible private nonprofit facilities, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. bar leta, and the gentleman from west virginia, mr. rahall, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. barletta: madam speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. barletta: thank you. madam speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. barletta: first, i want to
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acknowledge the work of the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith, for his leadership on this bipartisan legislation. currently the robert t. stafford disaster relief and emergency assistance act also known as the stafford act, provides for assistance to nonprofit organizations to rebuild damaged facilities following a declared disaster. like other nonprofit organizations, religious-based organizations have seen significant damage to their facilities from disasters. just last year, for example, we saw facilities owned by both religious and nonreligious organizations alike, damaged or destroyed by hurricane sandy. the administration is interpreting current law to allow some religious nonprofits to receive reconstruction
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assistance while others do not. for example, parochial schools and religious hospitals receive funds while a soup kitchen or a shelter may not depending on how often it is used for purely religious purposes. h.r. 592 clarifies that facilities owned by religious-based organizations qualify for certain type of disaster assistance. again, let me thank the gentleman from new jersey for his efforts on behalf of his constituents to rebuild the storm ravaged areas of his state. thank you. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: madam speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. rahall: i rise in support of h.r. 592, the federal disaster assistance nonprofit fairness act of 2013. this bill designates houses of
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worship as eligible private nonproast organizations to receive federal emergency management agency funds to repair or rebuild after a disaster strikes. when most people think of disaster damage, they think the physical damage that is off shown on television, that is of towned trees, flooded streets and homes, etc. but for disaster survivors, the impact is often also emotionally traumatic. in some cases survivors have lost loved ones or all of their worldly possessions. in these trying times, survivors often look to houses of worship for spiritual instruction, guidance, and counseling. the services provided by houses of worship are critical to survivors' full healing in recovery after a disaster. during and after disasters, houses of worship are there at a time when the emotional toll inflicted by a disaster is at its worst. while some may have concerns about providing any type of
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federal assistance to houses of worship, some types of federal assistance should be provided on a neutral basis. funding provided for secular purposes such as government funded and sponsored police and firefighting assistance and protection recovery from terrorist activities are such examples. likewise, disaster assistance has been provided to religious institutions in the past. in 1995, after the oklahoma city bombing, congress approved funds for the u.s. department of housing and urban development that specifically allowed for the repair and reconstruction of houses of worship damaged by the bombing. in addition, under fema's current policy, funds are provided to repair or rebuild religiously affiliated private, nonprofit organizations such as schools, nursing homes, food shelters, and daycare centers. assisting with recovery from a disaster does not promote or establish religion. there is no intrinsically
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religious purpose in providing disaster assistance. this provision simply recognizes that houses of worship are one aspect of community recovery. this bill helps ensure that our communities fully recover physically, emotionally, and mentally after a disaster. i urge my colleagues to join in supporting this bill and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from west virginia reserves. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. barletta: i wish to yield seven minutes to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith, who is the sponsor of this bill. mr. smith: i thank my good friend for yielding. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new jersey is recognized for seven minutes. mr. smith: and for mr. rahall. i want to thank gracie for her co-sponsorship and leadership on this important bill. and all the co-sponsors and to our leadership for scheduling it for a vote today. this is extremely important and very timely. madam speaker, superstorm sandy inflicted unprecedented damage on communities in the northeast, including my district of new
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jersey. congress and the president have responded by providing $60 billion in emergency and recovery aid. today's debate and vote, however, isn't at all about whether or how much funding congress appropriates to mitigate the impact of sandy. we have had that vote. rather it's about those who are being unfairly left out and left behind. it's about those who help feed, come for the, clothe, and shelter tens of thousands of victims now being told they are ineligible for a fema grant. it's unconscionable that foundational pillars of our community damaged by sandy, synagogue, churches, mosques, temples, and other houses of worship have been categorically denied access to these otherwise generally available relief funds. current fema policy is patently unfair, unjustified, and discriminatory and may even suggest hostility to religion. fema has a policy in place to aid nonprofit facilities damaged in the storm. but the agency has excluded
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houses of worship from their support. that is wrong and it's time that congress ensures fundamental fairness for these essential private nonprofits. the bipartisan federal disaster assistance nonprofit fairness act will ensure that houses of worship are eligible for federal funds administered by fema. mr. speaker, it's worth note -- madam speaker, it's worth noting that here that fema's discriminatory policy of exclusion is not prescribed by any law. nothing in the stafford act or any other law, including hurricane sandy disaster rehe leaf appropriations act, precludes funds to repair and replace and to restore houses of worship. indeed, the congressional precedent favors enacting h.r. 592 as there are several examples of public funding being allocated to houses of worship. for example, fema grants were expolice itly authorized by congress back in 1995 and
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provided the churches damaged by the oklahoma city terrorist attack, as my friend from west virginia pointed out. homeland security department provides funding to houses of worship for security upgrades. the intenor department provides funding for grants for historically significant properties, including active churches and active synagogues. and the s.b.a. provides low-interest loans, no hint at all by anyone that there is an establishment clause issue. . it is important to note that a department of justice memorandum explains what makes h.r. 592 constitutional. in a 2002 written opinion they concluded it was constitutional for congress to provide disaster relief and reconstruction funds to a religious jewish school along with all sorts of other organizations following a devastating earthquake. the same principles apply to
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protect religious organizations following a devastating hurricane. as the office of legal counsel memo concluded, quote, provisions of disaster assistance to religious organizations cannot be distinguished from aid programs that are constitutional under supreme court precedent, ensuringer that entitled to receive government benefits and services such as fire and police protection. the supreme court handed down its first modern establishment clause decision in the emerson v. board of education decision, which involved a program in my home state of new jersey. in that case, the court held that reals you constitutions are -- that religious institutions are entitled to receive general government services made available on the intifes -- on the basis of
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other criteria. the union of orthodox jewish organizations of america notes in an excellent legal analysis, quote, federal disaster relief is analogous toed they qualifies as yen government services approved by the court in emerson. madam speaker, the bill before us today makes clear and clarifies that federal disaster relief includes religious entities along with every other sort of entity. as the court later stated in whit myer vs. benson, quote, the provision of assistance is an important secular, or constitutional, effect. as stated most recently in "texas monthly" vs. bullock, insofar as those arrayed on non seq.tarian groups as well as
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religious organizations in support of some sectarian end, the fact that religious groups benefit does not remove the primary effect by the establishment clause. when three churches in detroit received taxpayer funded grants to repair and spruce up their buildings prior to the 2006 super bowl, american atheists sued the city of detroit and lost. in a sweeping decision authored by judge sutton, the u.s. court of appeals for the sixth circuit, held that the direct assistance to the churches did not violate the establishment clause. judge sutton said and i quote new york pertinent part, detroit sought to fix up its downtown not to establish a religion and it will general -- and as will generally be the case when a government program allocates generally available benefits on a neutral basis, and without a hidden agenda this program does not have the impermissible effect of advancing religion in general
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or any one faith in particular. by endorsing all qualifying applicants, the program has endorsed none of them, the court went on to say, and accordingly it has not run afoul of the religion clauses that means even-handed, neutral laws generally, but not invariably, will be upheld so long as the government benefit is neutral and generally applicable on its face, it presumptively will satisfy the establishment clause. h.r. 592 exhibits no government preference for or against religion or any particular religion since it merely permits houses of worship to receive the same type of generally available assistance -- i ask for an additional minute. mr. rahall: i yield the gentleman an additional minute. mr. smith: this legislation from the house of worship receive the same generally available assistance in picking
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up the pieces after stunning devastation that many other similarly situated nonprofits received. thus the bill not only passes the test of constitutionality, it passes the test of basic decency. indeed, to do otherwise would be to single out churches for adverse treatment which is in itself constitutionally suspect. the supreme court held, madam speaker, in one case that at a minimum, i quote this, the protections of the free exercise clause pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs and in employment decision vs. smith, the court held the free exercise clause, the state may not impose special disabilities on the basis of religious views or religious status. to continue to single out houses of worship for discrimination does not express government neutrality, it expresses government hostility, an there's no place for government hostility toward religion under our
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constitution. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expire. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: how much time do i have sfleft the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has 17 1/2 minutes. mr. rahall: thank you. i yield four minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. nadler. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for four minutes. mr. nadler: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. nadler: i reluctantly rise in opposition to this bill. the purpose of this bill is laudable. unfortunately, there are real constitutional problems. this bill would provide direct cash grants to rebuild houses of worship. direct government funding of church, synagogue, and mosques has always been held to be unconstitutional and the decisions of the supreme court establishing that principle remain good law to this day. while some recent decisions have raised questions of these prior decisions' validity they remain binding precedent. most legal authorities hold this bill to be
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unconstitutional though some would disagree. at the very least, given the serious constitutional questions raised by this, i am deeply troubled it has received no committee consideration and is being rushed to the floor shorltly after being introduced in a way that allows only 40 minutes of discussions. one would think we were naming a post office rather than passing that law that could thing the relations between government and religion. i want to commend the sponsors, mr. smith and my colleagues from new york, who have been outstanding champions of the people hard hit by hurricane sandy system of what is the concern? let's start with the basics. this bill would direct federal taxpayer dollars to the reconstruction of houses of worship. the idea that taxpayer money can be used to build a religious sanctuary or altar has been held unconstitutional. this is entirely different from government working with
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religious institutions to deliver social services. fema money under the law is already available to those institutions. disaster assistance policy 9521.1 states, quote, just because a community center is operated by a religious institution does not automatically make it ineligible. in addition to worship services many religious institutions conduct a variety of activities that benefit the community many of these are similar or identical to those performed by secular institutions and local governments, close quote. the law permits funding to those religious institutions on an equal basis to secular institutions doing the same work. though the title of this bill suggests otherwise there's no unequal treatment of religious institutions. what we're talking about is whether we should be in the business of using taxpayer money to build and rebuild places of wo ship, rebuild sanctuaries and altars not available for use by the yen
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public. i know people have been circulating letters making extravagant claims about the state of the law put the supreme court has never overruled its prior decisions limiting this kind of money. the court held that a 20-year ban on using facilities for real jus or other purposes was not sufficient. the court made the ban public saying if at the end of 20 years the building is converted to a chapel, the original federal grant will in part have the effect of advancing religion, close quote. and that of course is not permissible. in public education vs. nyquist, the court struck down repair grants for religious elementary and other schools. the court said if the government cannot build such buildings, they cannot maintain such buildings.
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some pointed to the case about loaning materials to religious cases. they said it must never be dwert to religious use. my colleagues on the other side have made a big deal about the constitution, we yield the -- we read the constitution at the beginning of each congress but all that means lit physical when faced with a genuinely constitutional question, the house gives it the bum's rush. this should be subject to judiciary committee with input from constitutional similars -- scholars and due consideration of such issues before we take such a radical step. at the least for those who support this bill, i would
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think they'd want to get it right to ensure it's not susceptible to successful legal challenge. i urge my colleague foice -- to put the brakes on this legislation until we give it the care it deserves. because i believe the bill to be unconstitutional and because the constitutional issues have not been properly considered i must reluctantly vote no. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. >> i wish to yield three minutes to the gentleman from virginia, chairman of the judiciary, mr. goodlatte. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. goodlatte: i thank the gentleman from pennsylvania, the chairman of the subcommittee for his hard work on this legislation and the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith, for introducing it and leading this bipartisan effort to address what sing a serious problem. i rise today in support of the federal disaster assistance nonprofit fairness act of 2013. churches, synagogues and all
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houses of worship are essential to the fabric of communities throughout this great nation. in times of need, it seems that faith and the charitable acts that faith inspire are esen torble rebuilding and healing our communities. when dast es -- when disasters occur like hurricane sandy it's often houses of worship whose faith calls them to spring into action, help their fellow man. faith inspires home that communities can become whole again. every member of congress has seen the good works an deeds that houses of worship and nonprofit organization do in our communities. there is no reason that the federal government should treat churches, synagogues and houses of worship differently than other nonprofits in times of disaster. i want to note that the so-called pervasively sectarian doctrine which absolutely prohibited any aid to pervasively sectarian organizations such as churches is no longer supported by supreme court precedent.
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while that doctrine was a central part of supreme court jurisprudence in the 1970's, when the supreme court handed down decisions cited by opponents of this bill, including tillton vs. richardson in 1971, hunt vs. mcnair in 1973, and committee for public education vs. nyquist, also 1973, it is no longer controlling as the pervasively sectarian doctrine was subsequently rejected by a majority of the supreme court in the 1999 case of mitchell vth helms. indeed as the congressional research service concluded in its december, 2007, report to congress, yet, in its most recent decision the supreme court appears to have abandoned the presumption that some religious institutions are so pervasively sectarian that they are constitutionally ineligible to participate in direct aid programs. it also seems clear that the whether a recipient institution is pervasively sectarian is no
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longer a constitutionally determinative factor, unquote. today's legislation is important because it will ensure that houses of worship are treated equitably to other private, nonprofit facilities and that they are eligible for federal emergency disaster relief and emergency assistance. i am glad that we are acting today to clarify that fema should treat churches, synagogues and all houses of worship the same as other nonprofit organizations that are working to rebuild affected communities. i thank congressman smith for introducing this legislation and i urge all members to join with me to support this important clarification of existing law and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: i'm honored to yield three minutes to the co-sponsor of the pending legislation, the gentlelady from new york, ms. ming. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for
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three minutes. ms. mention: i strongly urge -- ms. -- ms. meng: i want to thank my colleague, congressman chris smith of new jersey for his wonderful leadership on this issue. on october 29 of last year, hurricane sandier to through new york city and its surrounding areas and left an unprecedented amount of damage in its wake. homed burned to the ground, our communs were devastated, properties flooded and other 120 lives were lost. rightfully so, one of of the 113th congress' first actions was ensuring that adequate funding was made available to begin repairing the damage and i was happy to be part of that effort. . the aid congress made available was a great start to rebuilding our communities and making them whole. it was overwhelm a start. if we as members of congress want our affected communities to recover in the aftermath of any
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natural disaster, we must ensure that fema public assistance grants are available to help rebuild all institutions that are vital to a community's way of life. h.r. 592 is a bipartisan bill. it would allow houses of worship, such as churches, synagogues, temples, or mosques to receive the fair treatment they deserve. the bill places these vital community institutions on the same playing field as other private nonprofits that are already eligible for fema disaster relief. this bill provides no new funds. it sets forth no difference, no favoritism, no promotion of religion. it simply provides for the community and its well-being. facilities that already are able to apply for funding include museums, community centers, and homeless shelters. and it is important that houses of worship not be discriminated against when they need our help. these houses are vital community
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centers that serve so many of our constituents. the centers exist -- existence and ability to serve should not be infringed upon, especially because funds are available under a broad-l available -- broadly available program. indeed, to deny fema he leaf to these important institutions -- relief to these important institutions would be to discriminate against them in violation of our first amendment to the constitution. not every facility, home, or place that engages in religious activity will be made available for fema assistance because this bill use as predefined accept definition for what these facilities are under section 501-c of the internal revenue code of 1986. this is how the i.r.s. currently recognizes and provides tax benefits to houses of worship and this definition will help prevent erroneous claims of the the concerns about promotion of religion are unfounded. alan desho wits, an expert on
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these issues, sports this bill on constitutional grounds. he wrote that, quote, under precedents of the u.s. supreme court, religious institutions can receive aid if it is in a broadly available program with criteria neutral toward religion. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentlewoman is recognized for an additional minute. miss message: thank you. our -- ms. meng: our religious institutions is available to criteria neutral for religion. this is certainly the case in the context of fema disbursing aid to repair buildings in the wake of natural disasters. many of the groups opposing this bill also oppose nonprofit security grant funding. historic preservation grants, parochial school funding after katrina. they opposed federal assistance that helped rebuild a church in seattle after an earthquake. aid made available after the
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tragic oklahoma city bombing which money was made available to the first united methodist church, first baptist church, st. paul's episcopal cathedral. this is not presidential, this is taking care of our constituents and needs, our most important task in congress. congress erred by not including an important part of our communities in these rebuilding efforts and i hope we can correct that today. i yield back the remainder of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. barletta: how much time do i have remaining? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania has 7 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. barletta: madam chair, i wish to yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. pitts. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for 1 1/2 minutes. mr. pitts cloverpb thank you -- mr. pitts: thank you. i'm pleased to speak on this legislation to help rebuild communities destroyed by hurricane sandy. federal assistance is intended to make communities whole.
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we leave behind ruined houses of worship, we are taking the soul out of our -- those places. churches, synagogues, other houses of worship are an essential piece of any community. they provide shelter in storms, assistance to the needy, and support for families. and they provide essential services and support for people of all faiths. in previous disasters, including katrina, the seattle earthquake, the oklahoma city bombing of the federal government -- federal building, the government has extended assetsance -- assistance to places of worship. areas affected by sandy should be no different. aim' strong supporter of the first amendment and i believe that this assistance is completely compatible with our constitution. assistance will be distributed without prejudice against any particular religion. government cannot endorse religion but that does not mean
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it should -- we should discriminate against those of faith during a time of disaster. recovery cannot be considered successful if sacred places of our community are left empty. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania yields back. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: may i have a time check, please? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from west virginia has 8 1/2 minutes. mr. rahall: i yield five minutes to the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for five minutes. mr. scott: thank you, madam speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in opposition to h.r. 59 , the federal disaster assistance nonprofit fairness act of 2013 which would add houses of worship to the list of eligible entities that can receive direct government assistance from fema. while the devastation caused -- in many communities after hurricane sandy is severe and while i empathize with the desire to assist all who have suffered severe losses, direct government funding of houses of
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worship, whether for building or rebuilding, remains unconstitutional. the establishment clause in the first amendment protects religious freedom by preventing government from endorsing and funding any one religion or all religions. while intended this bill would violate years of precedence interpreting the establishment clause. in committees for public education, the 1973 case which upheld the principles and board of education from 1947, the u.s. supreme court held that no taxpayer funds could be used for maintenance and repair of facilities in which religious activities take place. explaining, quote, if a state cannot erect buildings in religious activities take place, it may not maintain such buildings or renovate them when they call into disrepair. accordingly, long-standing precedent specifically holds that taxpayer funds cannot go to construct, rebuild, or repair buildings used for religious activities.
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the types of buildings that this bill seeks to make eligible for direct government funds houses of worship are inherently used for religious activities and the bill would have the effect of unconstitutionally funneling taxpayer money for religious activities. other cases have also held the precedent established in emerson, the board of education, and further clarify the application of the establishment clause in cases of direct religious funding. the supreme court unanimously held that a government subsidy used to construct buildings at colleges and universities was constitutional but only if the buildings were never used for religious activities. in hunt v. mcnair, 1973, the supreme court held a south carolina law which established an educational fal silts authority that issued bonds to finance the construction and renovation of facilities and educational activities was upheld because it included a condition that government
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financed buildings could never be used for religious worship or instruction. all these cases firmly establish that it is actually permissible for the government to provide direct subsidyation -- that is actually impermissible for the government to provide direct subsidization of religious institution force construction, repair, or maintenance of any building that is or even might be used for religious purposes. houses of worship clearly falls within this category of buildings. based on a long line of supreme court bases cannot be publicly funded or recipients of direct grant funding. there are constitutional ways to assist churches along with other community organizations. loan programs such as government-sponsored small business loan programs available to any business in community could also be used by churches. such loan programs have been upheld as constitutional so long as they are both neutral in their face and application and so long as their purpose is not to aid religious institutions
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specifically. in itchle v. helms, 2000, the supreme court held that loan programs are allowable in some cases, however such programs are distinguishableable from grants and further distinguishable from direct funding much church facilities that are or may be used for religious purposes. the opinion concluded that of course we have seen, quote, special establishment clause dangers when money is given to religious schools or entities rather than indirectly. justice o'connor noted that continued -- the court's continueded recognition of the special dangers associated with direct money grants to religious institutions. therefore h.r. 592 clearly violates the principles prohibiting direct government grants to religious institutions. it also violates any possible exemption that could be available on the theory of neutrality. the standards in this bill applicable to houses of worship
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are different than the standards for other entities. while i'm in favor of constitutionally permissible way to assist churches that have been damaged by natural disasters, this bill clearly does not do so in a actually permissible way. and for this reason i must oppose the bill and urge my colleagues to work together to ensure that all entities affected by hurricane sandy can be assisted in a expeditious and actually permissible manner. thank you, madam speaker. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia yields back. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. barletta: i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: madam speaker, i yield two minutes to the gentlelady from texas, ms. sheila jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from texas is recognized for two minutes. ms. jackson lee: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. miss jackson lee: -- ms. jackson lee: madam speaker, i absolutely agree with my
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colleagues of the necessity of an absolute firewall around a the protection of the first amendment. and i do believe that members understand the sacred aspect of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. i rise today to support h.r. 592 , and i support it so that it can be considered by the senate and that we can reinforce the distinctive separation between church and state. but coming from hurricane, if you will, valley, coming from the gulf, living through hurricane rita and hurricane katrina, the pain i saw that places of worship, of any kind, were devastated, the members are
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taxpayers. and for all that we could do, we could never get those places to be restored. the small business loan program does not work. because many of our churches are just that, they give their money to the poor. they are not rich institutions. that is the bulk of places of worship no matter what your faith may happen to be. as the federal emergency management does in fact support nonprofits, i would argue to the authors of this bill as to whether or not they would be opened to ensure that the funding is specifically for the devastation that occurred on that specific natural disaster. that there was a time limit, that there was specific items of which the church or the place of worship, let me be general, could utilize it for. but i come to the floor because i lived the pain of pastors, i have lived the pains of rabbis and imans and -- -- and priests
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who have suffered the devastation. the speaker pro tempore: the the gentlelady's time has expired mr. rahall: i yield her all the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized for 1 1/2 minutes. ms. jackson lee: i thank the distinguished gentleman for his kindness. i thank the ranking member very much. i think we can make this work. and i also want to just being an anecdotal story, when we had hurricane katrina and rita, the places of worship opened their doors to the surviving members out of louisiana or survivors out of louisiana and just opened their doors. they had leaking roofs. they were damaged, but in texas they opened their doors. took a quarter of a million. they opened their doors. they put cots. they put cots. they fed them.

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